The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team took a 61-60 lead with 3:32 remaining in Tuesday’s season opener against defending Mid-American Conference regular-season champion Toledo, but the visiting Rockets jetted ahead with a game-closing 9-0 run to prevail 69-61 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) turned in 16 points in his Valpo debut to lead four Beacons in double figures.
How It Happened
- Toledo scored the game’s first seven points before Trevor Anderson’s (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]) jumper allowed the home fans to take their seats with 17:13 left in the first half. JT Shumate’s 3 made it 10-2 a moment later, but Valpo bounced back with a 7-0 run.
- The aforementioned run featured a steal and score by Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) that was punctuated by a fastbreak dunk and concluded with the first collegiate basket by freshman Keyondre Young (Del City, Okla. / Del City), who drained a corner 3 just seconds after checking in for his first Valpo action.
- Valpo grabbed its first lead of the evening on a triple out of the hands of another rookie as Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada [Orangeville Prep]) made it 13-12 in favor of the hosts at the 14:02 mark.
- The next seven points belonged to Toledo, and when EJ Farmer laid one in with 6:06 to go in the first half, the Rockets found themselves in front by double figures at 29-19.
- The Beacons put together a well-timed burst as a 10-0 run created a 29-all deadlock with 3:16 to go in the first half. Toledo went into the break with a narrow 35-33 lead.
- The two teams went back-and-forth early in the second half. A Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) trey tied the game at 42 with 15:59 to play, and Emil Freese-Vilien (Copenhagen, Denmark / Falkonergardens Gynasium]) came off the bench for a pair of buckets.
- Toledo widened the lead to seven, but Kevin Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) made a pair of clutch baskets, including a 3 at the 8:03 mark that shrunk the deficit back to one at 54-53. Taylor continued to hit big shots late when he nailed a 3 with 3:57 on the clock, then Anderson’s traditional 3-point play helped Valpo leapfrog ahead at 61-60 with 3:32 to go.
- That’s when the Rockets scored the final nine points of the game in a stretch where the guests shot 5-of-7 and the hosts missed their final five shot attempts.
Inside the Game
- Kithier paced the team in points (16) and rebounds (5), while Taylor (12), Anderson (11) and Edwards (10) joined him in double figures. Kithier’s scoring came on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting.
- Anderson dished out a game-high five assists in his Valpo debut. His 11 points came on 5-of-8 shooting.
- Valpo roared back to take the lead after trailing by as many as 10 points.
- Kithier’s 16 points represented a career high, surpassing his Michigan State high of 10 on Nov. 10, 2019 vs. Binghamton. This marked his second career double-figure game.
- Anderson hit double figures for the 13th time in his collegiate career while reaching the five-assist threshold for the third time.
- Taylor scored in double figures for the 82nd time in his collegiate career, while Edwards had his 10th double-figure scoring output.
- Valpo played without Second Team Preseason All-MVC choice Ben Krikke, who was sidelined with an injury. The Beacons were also without Connor Barrett due to an injury.
- Six of the nine players who saw action on Tuesday were making their Valpo debuts. The starting lineup was comprised of three newcomers (Kithier, Taylor and Anderson) plus a pair of returnees (Gordon and Edwards).
- Toledo was led by JT Schumate, who scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Ryan Rollins (15) and Setric Millner Jr. (10) were also in double-figures for the guests.
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (0-1) will welcome nearby foe UIC to the ARC on Saturday for a high noon tip. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 with links to live video, audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.