The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team outscored UIC 30-25 in the second half to force overtime, but the visiting Flames got the better of the extra session for a 74-70 win on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) provided the biggest bright spot, going off for a 28-point, 11-rebound double-double on an efficient 11-of-16 shooting. The game featured 10 ties and nine lead changes.
How It Happened
- The lead seesawed back and forth for much of the early stages with the game reaching ties at seven, 10 and 12. A 3-point play by Kithier at the 10:51 mark helped Valpo vault ahead 17-15, then Kithier’s jumper on the next possession doubled the lead to four.
- Fifth-year senior Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) buried a trey to extend the edge to 22-17 with 8:42 left of first-half time, but the game’s next two made baskets were UIC 3s to put the Flames ahead 23-22.
- Taylor responded with a five-point burst including a 3-pointer on a kick out from Kithier with 5:57 left in the half to make it 27-23 in favor of the hosts.
- Valpo led 29-27 with 2:52 to go in the half, but the Flames closed on a 7-0 run to take a 34-29 lead into the locker room.
- The gap extended to seven when UIC scored the first points of the second half, but the Beacons orchestrated an 11-0 run to go up 40-36. Trevor Anderson (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]) made a key 3 on a possession extended by a Taylor offensive board, and Edwards contributed four points to the burst.
- Freshman Keyondre Young (Del City, Okla. / Del City) nailed a go-ahead triple with 12:51 on the clock to make it 44-41, but the lead continued to go back and forth.
- Valpo was held without a point from the 7:06 mark to the 4:10 mark, a stretch that saw UIC build up a seven-point edge. The Beacons responded by keeping the Flames from scoring over the final 4:24 of regulation while putting together a 7-0 run.
- Neither team could find the hole over the final 2:03 of regulation, and a 59-all deadlock sent the game to overtime.
- UIC scored the first four points of OT and never trailed in the extra session. The Beacons got to within two at 70-68 with 1:20 to go and again at 72-70 with 30 seconds remaining, but a pair of free throws iced the game for the guests with 18 seconds on the clock.
Inside the Game
- Kithier’s 28 points were the most by a Valpo player in a single game since Javon Freeman-Liberty scored 29 on March 7, 2020 vs. Missouri State. It was the highest single-game output by a Valpo individual other than Javon since Bakari Evelyn scored 30 on Nov. 25, 2017 vs. UNCW.
- Kithier’s 28 points were the most scored by a Valpo player in a double-double since Freeman-Liberty had 30&13 on Nov. 12, 2019 at SIUE.
- Kithier had career highs in both points and rebounds. His previous scoring career high was this year’s season opener vs. Toledo (16), while his previous watermark on the glass was seven on four occasions.
- Kithier became the fourth player in The Valley with a performance of 28+ points this season, joining Antonio Reeves of Illinois State (twice), Sy Chatman of Illinois State and Gaige Prim of Missouri State.
- Sixth-year Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) squeezed seven rebounds, while Taylor had six to go along with his 16 points and team-high four assists.
- Sophomore Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) was Valpo’s third double-figure scorer with 13 while also blocking a career-high four shots. A Valpo player blocked more than three shots in a single game just once last season, when Donovan Clay had five against Purdue Northwest. Edwards’ four rejections were the most by a Valpo individual against a D1 team since Jaume Sorolla on Feb. 16, 2019 at Drake.
- This marked Valpo’s first overtime game since a double-OT affair on Jan. 28, 2021 vs. Bradley, a 91-85 victory. This was Valpo’s first OT defeat since Feb. 19, 2020 at Drake (77-75) and the team’s first OT loss at home since Feb. 13, 2019 vs. Indiana State (87-72).
- The last time Valpo opened the season 0-2 with both setbacks coming at home was 1997-1998, a year where the program eventually reached the Sweet 16.
- Redshirt junior Joe Hedstrom (Hopkins, Minn. / Hopkins [Wisconsin]) made his Valpo debut on Saturday.
- UIC was led by 23 points from Damaria Franklin.
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (0-2) will visit head coach Matt Lottich’s alma mater next week for a 7:30 p.m. CT tip off at Stanford on Wednesday. The game will be televised nationally on PAC-12 Network.