With the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team facing Illinois State on Wednesday night at Redbird Arena in Normal, Ill., they might as well have bypassed the first 40 minutes and just put five minutes on the clock.
The two teams that entered the day already tied for the national lead in overtime games competed in their sixth OT contest of the year as the host Redbirds overcame a sizable second-half deficit to pull out a 78-75 win. Valpo was led by Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]), who poured in a season-high 26 points on a night where the Redbirds snapped Valpo’s long winning streak in the head-to-head series.
How It Happened
- Illinois State scored the first five points of the game, and inched ahead on several occasions in the early going with Valpo climbing back to tie it each time. Valpo grabbed its first lead of the game when Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) swished a 3 to make ito g20-19 with 9:21 remaining.
- Taylor followed the Edwards 3 with a fastbreak triple that lifted the lead to four at 23-19 with 8:54 to go. After a basket by Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) and another 3 by Taylor, the Valpo lead reached nine with 6:19 left in the opening half, making it an 11-0 run by the Beacons.
- The Valpo lead was eight with a minute remaining in the first half, but Illinois State carried some momentum into the locker room after Josiah Strong and Antonio Reeves each knocked down treys in the final minute of the half to trim the lead to four at 37-33.
- Illinois State whittled the deficit to one with a traditional 3-point play in the first minute of the second half, but then Valpo responded with a 17-2 burst to build up its largest lead of the game at 54-38 with 15:47 left in regulation.
- The Beacons went cold as they didn’t score again until the 11:44 mark, and by that time the hosts had cut the lead to seven. The lead was nine with eight minutes remaining, then Illinois State scored six straight to cut the lead to three with 4:33 on the clock.
- Taylor stayed hot from 3 with a bullseye at the 3:56 mark, but the Redbirds would not go away. Reeves scored five straight points including a 3 at the 1:04 mark that created a 68-68 deadlock, the first time Illinois State got even since it was 17-17.
- Taylor made a pair of free throws with 49 seconds left, then Reeves remained red hot with 38 seconds to go. Taylor got a look from long range with nine seconds remaining and the shot clock winding down, but the ball was lodged between the rim and backboard and Illinois State got it on the rotating arrow.
- Valpo did a good job to force the ball out of Reeves’ hands on the final possession of regulation, and Strong missed a tough look for 3 at the buzzer. The two teams played on in a 70-70 tie.
- Valpo scored just two points in the first 4:58 of overtime, allowing Illinois State to grab a 78-72 lead. Edwards hit a 3 with two seconds to go, but it was too late as the Redbirds got the ball inbounds to solidify the three-point win.
Inside the Game
- The defeat snapped Valpo’s eight-game head-to-head winning streak over Illinois State and marked just the second time since joining the Valley that the Beacons succumbed to the ‘Birds.
- Valpo and Illinois State are tied for the national lead in number of overtime games this season with six apiece. Valpo has now played eight overtime periods (including a pair of double OT affairs), the outright national lead for number of overtime periods played this season.
- This is the first time Valpo has played overtime against the same opponent multiple times in the same season since 1992-1993 (UIC).
- The six OT games in one season in the program’s most since 1992-1993, when head coach Homer Drew’s team went to OT a program-record eight times.
- This was the 11th time in 24 games this season that Valpo has either played overtime or had the game decided by four points or fewer. Half of Valpo’s games against Division-I opponents have either gone to OT or been dictated by four points or fewer.
- Five of Valpo’s 12 conference games have gone to OT and nearly half (five of 11) of the team’s games in the calendar year 2022 have required beyond 40 minutes.
- Taylor’s 26 points represented a season high, outdoing his previous best of 22 on Jan. 22 vs. UNI. He has scored 20 points or more in back-to-back games and has a total of 46 points over his last two contests. After reaching 20 points just once in his first 22 Valpo games, he has done it in back-to-back outings.
- Taylor tied a season high with seven made field goals, his fourth game this year with seven made shots. He also equaled his season best with five made 3s, his third such game. From the free-throw line, Taylor was a perfect 7-of-7, a season high for made foul shots.
- Taylor swiped three steals, matching a season high set vs. Charlotte and a career high set on seven prior occasions. Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) also had three steals, tying a career best.
- King finished with 14 points, reaching double figures for the sixth straight game and for the 13th time in his 15 Valpo contests.
- Edwards scored 12 points, his second straight game in double figures after five in a row in single figures. Krikke had 12 as well, his fifth straight double-figure output.
- Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) squeezed six rebounds, his highest output since a season-high eight in Valpo’s last matchup with the Redbirds back on Jan. 2.
- Valpo had 15 assists against just nine turnovers, the 14th time this season Valpo has made 10 turnovers or fewer. This was Valpo’s second straight game with 15 assists.
- Reeves finished with a career-high 34 points for Illinois State, surpassing Noah Carter’s 33 on Jan. 19 for UNI as the most by a Beacon opponent this season. The 34 points was the most scored by an individual against Valpo since Southern Utah’s Randy Onwuasor had 35 on Nov. 11, 2016.
- The Beacons played without Thomas Kithier (back) for the fourth straight game.
Valpo (11-13, 4-8 MVC) will continue a travel-heavy week with a Saturday game against Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. The game will tip at 3 p.m. and will air on the MVC TV Network, which includes NBC Sports Chicago.