All is well that ends well for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team.
Visiting Evansville scored the first 16 points of the second half, but the host Beacons showed the resiliency required to withstand the shaky stretch, flipping a double-figure deficit into a 74-69 victory on Monday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The two teams faced off for the second time in three days after beginning the season series in Evansville on Saturday afternoon. The start to the second half wasn’t the only adversity that Valpo had to overcome, as the Beacons played without two starters due to injuries.
How It Happened
- Evansville got out to a 9-8 lead over the game’s first five minutes before Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall) scored six unanswered points, hitting from beyond the arc before achieving a 3-point play the old-fashioned way.
- The Purple Aces fought back to tie the game by the half’s midway mark and trailed by just two with eight minutes on the clock, but that’s when the hosts went on a major run. Valpo scored 11 in a row to boost a 20-18 lead into a 31-18 cushion. That burst included seven points by Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place).
- Sophomore Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) hit a triple with 3:22 remaining in the half to up the edge to 12 at 34-22, but the Aces hit back-to-back 3s and were within six at 36-30 going into the locker room.
- Evansville built up a 10-point lead in the first five minutes of the second half, but the Beacons responded to the adverse stretch in a positive manner. They fought back with a 9-0 run of their own from the time Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) scored the team’s first points of the half at the 14:26 mark to Taylor’s trey with 12:24 remaining. That stretch was crucial, slimming the Evansville lead down to one.
- Sixth-year senior Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) hit from long range at the 10:46 mark, then King helped Valpo regain the lead at 50-49 with a basket just before the clock reached 10 minutes.
- The lead went back and forth for the next several minutes. Krikke dunked one home on a Taylor assist with 6:13 on the clock, but later Evansville’s Blake Sisley drained a 3 to put the Purple Aces ahead 56-55 with 5:24 remaining.
- From there, Valpo scored the next eight points including Krikke and Edwards each assisting on a basket by the other to make it 63-58 with 3:08 to go.
- Evansville cut the lead to one possession on four different occasions in the final 2:30, but Valpo maintained the advantage throughout the game’s closing minutes. The Aces got the margin all the way down to one at 70-69 after a Blaise Beauchamp 3 with 10 seconds left, but Edwards and Taylor combined to go 4-for-4 at the line in the closing seconds. Valpo went 9-for-10 at the free-throw stripe in the final 33 seconds of the game to hold on for the win.
Inside the Game
- Taylor turned in a game-high 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 5-of-5 at the free-throw line. He scored 14 first-half points on 5-of-8 shooting. Taylor reached 20 points for the fourth time this season, all in his last 10 games. He has scored 20 points or more in three of his last six. Taylor is now just 15 points away from reaching the 2,000-point milestone for his collegiate career, which started with four years at Winona State.
- After posting his first career double-double on Saturday at Evansville, Edwards wasted no time in notching his second. No. 13 scored 13 points in Monday’s game and established a new career high in rebounds for the second straight outing, this time pulling down 12 caroms. He added two blocks and two steals. After five straight single-figure performances, Edwards has scored in double figures in six straight outings.
- Edwards became the first Valpo player to post back-to-back double-doubles since Alec Peters on Jan. 27 and Jan. 29, 2017 (vs. Wright State, vs. Northern Kentucky).
- King finished with a double-double as well, accruing 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds. That marked his second career double-double with the previous coming vs. Indiana State on Feb. 5.
- Valpo had two players achieve double-doubles in the same game for the first time since Jan. 23 of last season at Illinois State (Eron Gordon and Donovan Clay). Prior to that, it hadn’t occurred since Jan. 16, 2017 vs. Green Bay (Alec Peters and Tevonn Walker).
- Krikke totaled 16 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting while squeezing five rebounds. He scored in double figures for the ninth straight game, shot 50 percent or better from the field for the 18th time in the last 19 games and had five rebounds or more for the eighth time in nine games.
- The victory allowed Valpo to complete the four-game regular-season sweep of Indiana State and Evansville, representing the first time Valpo has gone unbeaten against instate foes in regular-season Valley play.
- Gordon had a career-high four blocked shots, his first career game with more than two. He boasted a team-best plus-minus of +17 including a +14 in the first half alone. Gordon also had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting.
- Valpo owned a distinct 42-23 advantage on the glass, a +19 rebounding margin that marked the team’s best against a Division-I opponent this season. It was Valpo’s best rebounding margin against a Division-I team since going +32 vs. Samford on Nov. 21, 2017.
- In terms of offensive rebounds, Valpo outdid Evansville 10-2. The 10 offensive rebounds tied for the team’s most vs. D-I competition this season (vs. Eastern Michigan, at Indiana State), while the two offensive boards tied for the fewest allowed by Valpo all season with Saturday’s game against the Purple Aces. The Beacons permitted just four offensive rebounds over the two games this weekend.
- Valpo prevailed despite shooting just 22.2 percent from 3-point distance (4-of-18). That marked Valpo’s lowest 3-point percentage in a win since going 0-for-10 on March 5, 2020 in the opening round of the State Farm MVC Tournament, also a win over Evansville. Valpo went 23-of-36 (63.9 percent) from 2-point territory on Monday.
- This marked the third time this season (Tulane, Eastern Michigan) that Valpo has overcome a double-figure deficit to win. This was the 19th time during the Matt Lottich head coaching era (sixth season) that Valpo came from double figures down to prevail.
- This marked Matt Lottich’s 96th career victory, moving him to within four of becoming the fourth head coach in program history to reach the 100-win milestone.
- Evansville’s five free-throw attempts marked the fewest by a Valpo opponent since Drake’s four on Jan. 11, 2020.
- With the win on Monday, Valpo has clinched at least a .500 record at home, extending the team’s long streak of finishing at .500 or better at the ARC to 30 consecutive seasons, dating back to 1991-1992. Valpo is 8-7 at home this season entering Wednesday’s home finale vs. Drake.
- Freshman Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada / Orangeville Prep) made his first collegiate start, making this Valpo’s 13th different starting lineup combination this season and 10th in Missouri Valley Conference play.
- Valpo played without the services of starting center Thomas Kithier (back) and starting point guard Preston Ruedinger (ankle). In addition, original starting point guard Trevor Anderson is out for the season with a back injury.
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (13-15, 6-10 MVC) won’t have long to rest as Drake will be in town for a 6 p.m. tip on Wednesday night. The game will air on ESPN+ and tickets are available by visiting valpoathletics.com/tickets. Kevion Taylor, Eron Gordon and Trevor Anderson will be celebrated on Valpo’s Senior Night, the final home game of the regular season.