December 29, 20231st2ndFinal
Stats at a GlanceVALPOElon
FG Percentage.443 (27-61) .527 (29-55)
3P FG Percentage.360 (9-25) .389 (7-18)
FT Percentage.682 (15-22) .773 (17-22)
Offensive Rebounds138
Defensive Rebounds2224
Total Rebounds3532
Bench Points232
PointsWilliamson - 24
Higgins - 19
ReboundsEdwards - 8
Pratt - 7
AssistsDeAveiro - 6
Mackinnon - 4
Higgins - 4
StealsWilliamson - 2
Schwieger - 2
Higgins - 6
BlocksEdwards - 2
Schwieger - 2
Campbell - 3
Freshman Tandem Shines as Second-Half Rally Falls Shy at Elon
Friday, December 29, 2023
Freshman Tandem Shines as Second-Half Rally Falls Shy at Elon
Jahari Williamson knocked down five 3s on Friday.

Playing without the team’s leading scorer due to an injury, a young Valparaiso University men’s basketball team was even younger when it took the floor on Friday afternoon for the nonconference finale in Elon, N.C. Young talent was on display as Valpo – the seventh least experienced team in the country according to KenPom – was led by the freshmen duo of Jahari Williamson (Pickering, Ontario, Canada / Royal Crown Academy) and Cooper Schwieger (Overland Park, Kan. / Blue Valley Southwest [Link Year]), who combined for 45 points in an 82-78 setback to Elon. Valpo trailed by as many as 17 early in the second half before using a valiant rally to create a tight finish.

How It Happened

  • Elon used an early 9-0 run to turn a 6-6 tie into a nine-point lead at the 13:21 mark of the first half.
  • After a pair of baskets by Isaac Harrell, Elon had built up a 12-point cushion and forced a Valpo timeout with 11:09 left in the half. The Phoenix used another triple to make it 23-8 with 10:24 on the clock.
  • A 7-0 Beacon burst sliced a 14-point deficit in half by the 6:37 mark. Williamson had a triple and two free throws during that stretch.
  • The lead fluctuated between six and eight but eventually got back up to 12 with 2:42 left in the half. Williamson hit a 3 to cut it back to single figures, but Elon answered with a traditional 3-point play and added one more point to go into the break up 42-29.
  • Elon led by 17 with 16:36 left in the second half, but a 10-0 Valpo run ensued to cut the gap to seven. Schwieger made a big 3 during the run.
  • Valpo got to within five for the first time in the second half when Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada / Orangeville Prep) drained one from distance with 11:04 to go, then he added a driving layup to make it 57-54 with 10:26 on the clock.
  • Valpo again fought it down to three when Schwieger made a 3 with 6:42 on the clock, then a Schwieger basket following an Ola Ajiobye (Chicago, Ill. / Evanston Township [Central Michigan / Bosco Institute]) steal made it 68-66 with 5:52 to go.
  • Elon had an 8-0 run by scoring eight points in 11 seconds to up the lead to double figures.
  • Valpo responded again with six straight points including Williamson making a layup with 3:46 to go. Valpo could never quite get over the hump, and Elon hit free throws in the final minute to seal it before Williamson beat the buzzer with a 3 to account for the final score.

Inside the Game

  • This marked the first time Valpo had two 20-point scorers in the same game this season. The previous occurrence of that was Feb. 14 of last season when Ben Krikke and Kobe King did it against Southern Illinois. This marked the first time in recent memory that a pair of Valpo freshmen each scored 20+.
  • Making his first collegiate start due to the absence of Isaiah Stafford, Williamson finished with a career-high 24 points. He knocked down five 3s and was a perfect 7-for-7 at the free-throw line. He also had five rebounds and two assists.
  • Schwieger went 7-of-11 from the field for 21 points with the bulk of his damage coming after halftime. Over the final 20 minutes, he scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
  • Schwieger has scored 15 points or more four times this season including each of the last two games.
  • Sophomore Jaxon Edwards (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Murray State]) also made positive contributions on a day where underclassmen thrived. He posted 15 points, slammed home a pair of dunks and squeezed a team-high eight rebounds. He was in double figures by halftime.
  • Edwards had his highest scoring output in the last 10 games and his fifth double-figure scoring output this season.
  • Elon shot 52.7 percent for the game while Valpo’s shooting numbers represented a tale of two halves – 26.7 percent before the break and 61.3 percent after.
  • Elon owned a 32-2 edge in bench points.
  • Valpo grabbed 13 offensive rebounds including five from Edwards and four from Ajiboye.
  • DeAveiro dished out six assists, his eighth straight game with five or more. He also scored 10 points, his first double-figure scoring output in the last six games and third of the season.
  • Valpo made nine 3s, tied for the team’s highest total against a Division-I opponent this season.
  • Valpo won or tied the turnover battle for the sixth straight game, committing 11 to Elon’s 13.
  • Of the team’s 78 points on Friday, 51 were scored by true freshmen (65.3 percent). Of the 78 points, 68 were scored by freshmen and sophomores (87.2 percent). The Beacons started a lineup that featured three freshmen, one sophomore and one junior.

Up Next

The Beacons (4-9, 0-2 MVC) will start the calendar year of 2024 and the continuous portion of Missouri Valley Conference play on Wednesday as Bradley comes to the Athletics-Recreation Center for a 7 p.m. tip. For ticket information, visit