The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team scored the game’s first 12 points and never looked back on Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, leading by double figures for most of the night en route to an 81-69 victory over Evansville to sweep the season series from the Purple Aces. Valpo’s biggest day came from the team’s biggest scoring threat as Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) finished with 30 points, one shy of a career high.
How It Happened
- Valpo set the tone right away, jumping out to a 12-0 lead from the outset. Maximus Nelson (Appleton, Wis. / Appleton North) hit 3s on consecutive possessions to force former Valpo assistant coach and current UE basketball boss David Ragland into an early timeout at 10-0, and the run extended to 12 on a Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) bucket before the guests finally scratched the scoresheet.
- The lead stretched to 15 with help from a pair of traditional 3-point plays by Ben Krikke.
- A steal by Ibra Bayu (Flevoland, The Netherlands / Perkiomen) led to a fastbreak dunk by Krikke to extend the lead to 16 at 26-10 with 8:47 remaining of first-half time.
- The cushion was 19 at 33-14 with 6:07 left in the half, but the Purple Aces rattled off 10 straight points to get to within nine with 3:46 on the first-half timer. Valpo had it back up to 15 by the break with Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada / Orangeville Prep) driving to the basket for a layup right before the halftime horn.
- Evansville cut what had been a 19-point gap to 11 with 8:50 remaining in the second half, but the hosts would not allow them to get back within single digits, ramping the lead back up as high as 17 after a made triple by Connor Barrett (Chicago, Ill. / Loyola Academy) with 2:26 to play in the eventual 12-point triumph.
Inside the Game
- Krikke has scored in double figures in 11 consecutive games and has done so in all 12 conference contests.
- Krikke’s 30-point effort was one shy of his career peak, which came on Dec. 4 of this season vs. Murray State.
- The senior forward went 10-of-14 from the field and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line while also squeezing nine rebounds. This was his third straight game with eight or more caroms and his highest rebound total in league play this year. The 10 made field goals were his most since 12 vs. Murray State on Dec. 3, and the 10 made free throws shattered his previous career high of eight set on Jan. 17 of this season vs. UIC.
- Krikke also continued his climb on Valpo’s all-time scoring list, usurping Mike Jones (1986-90; 1,378) for 16th. He finished the night with 1,391 career points, five away from passing Jeff Simmons (1978-82) for a spot in the top 15.
- King joined Krikke as the only Beacons to register double figures as he notched 13 points, his 23rd straight game with 10 or more.
- Edwards handed out 10 assists, his third game this season with a double-figure assist total. Krikke added four helpers as part of his big day, and as a team Valpo had a season-high 19 assists on 29 made baskets.
- The 19 assists marked Valpo’s highest total since 23 on Dec. 22, 2021 vs. William & Mary. This marked the team’s highest total in conference play since also giving out 19 on Feb. 6, 2021 vs. Drake.
- Valpo shot 85.7 percent (18-of-21) at the free-throw line, its best showing at the stripe since shooting 87 percent on Nov. 19 vs. Incarnate Word.
- Barrett had nine points and seven rebounds, the latter of which shattered his previous career high of six that came on Dec. 6, 2020 vs. Judson.
- Nelson scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting and pulled down seven boards. He too set a career high on the glass after previously grabbing six rebounds on two occasions.
- Valpo extended its head-to-head winning streak with Evansville to five.
- The 81 points tied a season high against a Division-I opponent (Western Michigan, James Madison [OT]) and were the team’s most in league play this year and most overall since Dec. 6 vs. Trinity Christian (96). This was Valpo’s highest point total in a regular season, regulation MVC game since Feb. 25, 2022 (89 vs. Missouri State).
- Valpo survived 3-point shooting struggles as the team shot just 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from long range.
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (10-13, 4-8 MVC) will hit the road for a 7 p.m. date with Missouri State on Wednesday night in Springfield. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.