This week may not have been for the faint of heart, but it sure was for those who enjoy Valparaiso University men’s basketball victories.
Fresh off Wednesday’s overtime win over UNI, the program once again delivered a thrilling triumph on Saturday afternoon at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute. After three of the previous six games required overtime, this one featured only 40 minutes of action but was every bit as dramatic as the Beacons battled back from a five-point halftime hole to edge Indiana State 75-73. Ben Krikke’s (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) go-ahead basket spun around the rim and in with six seconds remaining and stood as the game-winner.
How It Happened
- The game was low scoring early on as the two teams went back-and-forth for much of the first half. Neither team led by more than five in a tightly-played opening half that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes. Indiana State led for just 4:43 in the opening stanza, but that included a late-half burst that saw the Sycamores take a five-point edge into the locker room.
- Valpo trailed by just one at 34-33 with 1:13 left in the first half, but the Sycamores made a pair of 3s late in the period to create the aforementioned five-point cushion.
- Indiana State got fouled shooting a three on the first possession of the second half, but missed all three free throws. Valpo came out of the half with a 7-0 run to take a 42-40 lead at the 17:36 mark. Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) connected on the go-ahead 3 to cap the half-opening spurt.
- The lead seesawed back and forth in the middle part of Half 2. King capitalized on a second-chance opportunity with an old-fashioned 3-point play at the 12:46 mark that snapped a 48-all tie.
- A relentless play on the offensive boards led to a huge basket by Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) to widen Valpo’s lead to five with 11:47 to play. He collected an initial offensive rebound, then cleaned up his own miss with another board prior to the made layup.
- King completed another 3-point play at the 11:12 mark to boost the Beacon lead to six, then Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) swished a fastbreak triple on a Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada / [Orangeville Prep]) assist to create Valpo’s largest lead of the day at 59-50 with 10:52 on the clock. King had a steal on one end of the court and went coast-to-coast for a transition layup to up the gap to 11 at 61-50 with 10:22 remaining, Valpo’s first double-figure advantage.
- As is so often the case in the Missouri Valley Conference, Indiana State would not go away. The Sycamores stayed within striking distance and had reduced the lead to five with 3:24 to play before Preston Ruedinger (Oshkosh, Wis. / Lourdes Academy) hit a big-time 3 at the 3:24 mark to make it 73-65.
- After Ruedinger’s triple, Indiana State scored eight straight points.
- The Sycamores tied the game at the free-throw line to make it 73-all with 36 ticks remaining. Valpo called timeout to set up the final offensive play with a five-second difference between the shot clock and game clock. With the shot clock winding down, Krikke’s challenging inside look spun around the rim and in to put the Beacons ahead 75-73 with six seconds to go.
- Valpo played great defense on the final play of the game, forcing the ball away from Indiana State’s top offensive threats as the Sycamores settled for an off-balance look from a defensive-minded player as time expired.
Inside the Game
- Krikke’s game-winning shot with six seconds remaining was Valpo’s latest game-winner since Eron Gordon’s memorable buzzer-beating layup on March 6, 2020 vs. Loyola in the MVC Quarterfinals.
- Valpo enjoyed its first victory in Terre Haute since joining The Valley, snapping a three-game skid at the Hulman Center. The last time the team won at Indiana State was Dec. 9, 2015, a nonconference matchup in Valpo’s penultimate Horizon League season.
- Valpo went 2-0 this week with the games decided by a total of five points. In the calendar year of 2022, five of Valpo’s seven games have gone to overtime or been decided by three points or fewer.
- Valpo held on for the victory despite playing without Trevor Anderson in the second half and without Thomas Kithier over the final 11:46 as both battled injuries.
- This was Valpo’s fifth victory this season when trailing at halftime. Five of Valpo’s 10 triumphs have involved reversing a halftime deficit.
- Krikke paced the team with 21 points, his fifth 20-point output of the season and first since Dec. 7. This marked Krikke’s highest scoring output in league play this season.
- King and Taylor combined for over half of Valpo’s second-half scoring, producing 23 of the team’s 40 second-half points. King had 13 after the break en route to a 15-point day, while Taylor scored 10 of his 17 in the second stanza.
- Taylor made a pair of 3s and has now hit at least one in 83 consecutive games.
- Kithier turned in a balanced stat line of eight points, six rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes. Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) skied for six boards in 17 minutes of run, while Krikke paced the team on the glass with seven including three offensive caroms. Krikke reached seven rebounds for the third time this season (8 at Western Michigan, 7 at Loyola).
- Valpo made just seven turnovers, all in the second half. This was the 13th time in 20 games this season that Valpo has committed 10 turnovers or fewer.
- Another stellar day at the free-throw line played a significant role in the victory. Valpo had just one misfire at the stripe, going 16-of-17 for 94.1 percent. This was the eighth time this season Valpo has shot better than 80 percent at the foul stripe and the fourth time over 90 percent. In the team’s three conference wins, Valpo is 45-of-48 at the charity line (93.4 percent).
- After being outrebounded in 11 of its first 13 Division-I games, Valpo has enjoyed a turnaround on the glass. The Beacons owned a 38-36 edge in that area on Saturday and has now outrebounded the opposition in four of the last five contests.
- The seesaw game featured 11 ties and 16 lead changes.
- This marked the 93rd career victory for Valpo head coach Matt Lottich, who needs seven more to become the fourth head coach in program history to reach 100. With the win on Saturday, Lottich moved into a tie for fourth with Gene Bartow in career head coaching victories at Valpo.
Valpo (10-10, 3-5 MVC) will look for a third consecutive victory on Wednesday as Bradley comes to the Athletics-Recreation Center for a 6 p.m. start. The game will air on ESPN+, 95.1 FM Valparaiso and the TuneIn Radio app. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit valpoathletics.com/tickets.