January 14, 20241st2ndFinal
Illinois St.203050
Stats at a GlanceVALPOILS
FG Percentage.431 (22-51) .322 (19-59)
3P FG Percentage.333 (4-12) .056 (1-18)
FT Percentage.846 (11-13) .550 (11-20)
Offensive Rebounds513
Defensive Rebounds3226
Total Rebounds3739
Bench Points1520
PointsSchwieger - 16
Foster - 9
Burford - 9
ReboundsSchwieger - 13
Davis - 8
Lewis - 8
AssistsDeAveiro - 8
Banks - 6
StealsDavis - 4
BlocksEdwards - 1
Sepp - 1
Kasubke - 1
Valpo Returns to Win Column with Road Triumph at Illinois State
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Valpo Returns to Win Column with Road Triumph at Illinois State
Cooper Schwieger had his first collegiate double-double on Sunday.

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team returned to the win column on Sunday afternoon, putting together a solid, 40-minute team effort to defeat host Illinois State 59-50 at CEFCU Arena in Normal, Ill. Freshman Cooper Schwieger (Overland Park, Kan. / Blue Valley Southwest [Link Year]) enjoyed his first collegiate double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds to lift the Beacons to their first Missouri Valley Conference victory.

The triumph was a sentimental one for head coach Roger Powell Jr., whose first road and conference win as a collegiate head coach came at the location where he grew up going to games as his father Roger Powell Sr. is a former Illinois State basketball standout and a member of the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame.  

How It Happened

  • An early triple by Isaiah Stafford (Bolingbrook, Ill. / Crispus Attucks [John A. Logan / Southern Indiana]) lifted Valpo to a 5-4 edge two minutes into the contest. It was a defensive battle early as Jahari Williamson (Pickering, Ontario, Canada / Royoal Crown Academy) helped the guests regain the lead at 9-8 with his basket with 13:01 on the clock.
  • A good find by Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada / Orangeville Prep) led to an Ola Ajiboye (Chicago, Ill. / Evanston Township [Central Michigan / Bosco Institut]) dunk that tied the game at 13 with 7:18 left in the opening half. The game continued to seesaw back and forth until a 7-0 burst including a go-ahead step back by DeAveiro helped the Brown & Gold build up a 24-18 edge with 1:39 left in the half. That gap expanded to eight by the break.
  • Valpo’s defense contributed to Illinois State shooting that was almost as cold as the sub-zero temperatures in the opening half as the Redbirds shot just 23.3 percent from the field and 0-for-8 from 3 before the break.
  • A 5-0 Valpo run doubled a five-point lead to 10 with 13:54 to play, with Stafford drilling a shot from long range to give Valpo its first double-figure cushion. Stafford buried one again a moment later to up the edge to 11.
  • The Redbirds cut it to single figures at eight or nine on several occasions, but the Brown & Gold always had an answer. Williamson made a tough shot with 7:39 to go to get the lead back to 11.
  • The Beacons attacked the basket down the stretch and created a mixture of layups and free throws to keep matching Illinois State nearly point for point while running time off the clock. Stops on the defensive end over the final two minutes sealed a victorious effort.  

Inside the Game

  • Schwieger enjoyed a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, the first of his collegiate career. He became the third Valpo player with a double-double this season, joining Jaxon Edwards (Jan. 6 at UIC) and Jerome Palm (Nov. 17 at No. 23 Illinois).
  • Schwieger’s 16 points marked his most in the last four games. He went 5-of-7 from the field and 6-of-6 at the free-throw line. His 13 boards outdid his previous personal best of eight that was reached on Nov. 6 vs. Trinity Christian and Jan. 6 at UIC.
  • Schwieger notched the first double-double by a Valpo freshman since Javon Freeman-Liberty on Jan. 29, 2019 vs. Missouri State. This was the most rebounds by a Valpo player in an MVC game since Donovan Clay had 14 on Feb. 7, 2021 vs. Drake.
  • DeAveiro made his first three free throws of the day to extend his made free throw streak to 15 before finally misfiring from the stripe on his fourth attempt of the afternoon. Prior to the miss, he was 22-of-23 from the foul line since Dec. 3. As a team, Valpo shot 84.6 percent (11-of-13) from the charity stripe on Sunday.
  • DeAveiro finished with nine points, four rebounds and eight assists. He’s scored nine points or more in five straight and handed out four assists or more in 13 straight. He turned in his second-highest assist total of the season on Saturday, behind only 10 on Dec. 19 vs. Samford.
  • Stafford scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Kaspar Sepp had six points and six rebounds.
  • Valpo held Illinois State to 5.6 percent from 3-point distance (1-of-18) and 32.2 percent from the field. This was Valpo’s best 3-point defense in a game since holding Cleveland State to 1-of-18 way back on Jan. 4, 2013. This was the first time Valpo limited an opponent to one made 3 or fewer in the opponent’s home gym since Cleveland State on Feb. 19, 2012.
  • This marked the first time Valpo held an opponent below 33 percent shooting since Feb. 27, 2021 vs. Indiana State. This was the team’s best field goal percentage defense in a road game since a 66-43 win at Cleveland State on Feb. 16, 2016.
  • The 50 points were the fewest allowed by Valpo since beating Judson 85-45 on Dec. 6, 2020 and the fewest allowed against a Division-I opponent since a 55-38 win vs. Southern Illinois on Feb. 12, 2020. This was the fewest points permitted by Valpo in a true road game since Feb. 16, 2016, winning 66-43 at Cleveland State.
  • The Beacons made a tweak to the starting lineup as Sherman Weatherspoon IV (Bowie, Md. / Bethesda-Chevy Chase) made his first collegiate start. He became the fourth Valpo freshman to start a game this season and Sunday’s lineup featured three rookies.
  • The Beacons continued their success in the all-time series with Illinois State, beating the Redbirds for the 10th time in the last 11 matchups
  • Valpo, the nation’s seventh most inexperienced team according to KenPom, knocked off a much more veteran Illinois State team to snap a 10-game losing streak and grab its first road victory since last year’s Valpo team won in Bloomington-Normal.

Thoughts from Head Coach Roger Powell Jr.

“There are emotions after a game like that, a hard-fought battle. All year this team has been growing. There were a couple moments in the game where there were four freshmen out there scrapping and competing. Our story has been an interesting one this season. We’ve had a losing streak, but we’ve been fighting and battling. We have a team with such inexperience playing in a league where there are a lot of experienced and older teams. Seeing this team not give up and fight and compete day in and day out is inspirational.”

“We’re building a special culture of selflessness here. To have my first conference win coming at Illinois State where I grew up going to games as a little boy is special. My dad wasn’t here today because of the weather, but I’m really thankful for this one. I told the guys in the locker room that today is Sunday, and for a preacher, Sunday’s are great days, it’s the Lord’s day.”

“I knew it was going to be hard to win here against a good Illinois State team. I was so locked into the team that I didn’t have much time to think about the sentimental side going into the game, but during warmups I had a quick second where I looked up into the stands and had some memories. There’s a picture of me with my dad when I’m a little boy, and it’s pretty special.”

“We had to guard them. They have some guys who can make shots. Our guys did a good job of executing a good game plan. They made runs and we thought we had games won this year, we just hadn’t figured out how to close them out. These guys are growing up. They fought hard and contested every shot. Our guys did a good job of making all of their shots difficult.”

Up Next

The Beacons (5-12, 1-5 MVC) will look to make it back-to-back wins on Wednesday at Evansville with the tip slated for 7 p.m. from the Ford Center. The game will air on ESPN+.