Crusaders Drop Tight Decision at Evansville Wednesday

 

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team came up just short of earning its first Missouri Valley Conference road victory Wednesday night at Evansville, eventually dropping a 63-59 decision to the Purple Aces.

 

How It Happened

–          Valpo got off to a quick start on Wednesday evening, scoring seven of the game’s first eight points.

–          The Crusaders kept the lead throughout the first few minutes of the game and enjoyed a 17-12 lead following a 3-pointer from sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) with 12:26 to play in the first half.

–          Valpo would go scoreless over the next five-plus minutes, however, as Evansville went on a 10-0 run during that stretch to claim the lead.

–          The Purple Aces led 28-24 with three minutes to play in the first half, but a quick 8-1 spurt from Valpo – including 3-pointers from sophomore Micah Bradford (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) and freshman Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) – returned the lead to the Crusaders’ side of the ledger.

–          Valpo eventually took a 32-31 lead into halftime.

–          After losing the lead briefly early in the second half, Valpo regained the edge and extended the lead to 41-35 with 13:56 to play on a 3-point play by sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]).

–          The lead was still three points at 43-40 with 12:29 to go on another inside basket from Evelyn, but the Crusaders would go nearly the next seven minutes without scoring as the Purple Aces scored the next 11 points to go ahead by eight.

–          Valpo scored on each of its next five possessions, capped by a 3-pointer from sophomore John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) and a baseline jumper from Golder, to move within 56-54 with 2:35 to play.

–          The Crusaders had shots to tie or take the lead following defensive stops on each of the next two trips, but couldn’t get either effort to fall, and Evansville’s Ryan Taylor knocked down a jumper with 55 seconds to play to make it a four-point game.

–          Valpo had one final shot to tie the game, as following a 3-pointer from Golder which made it a 60-57 game, the Crusaders forced a turnover in the backcourt with 18 seconds to go. But another 3-point attempt was off the mark.

 

Inside the Game

–          Evelyn and Golder tied for team-high honors with 15 points apiece on Wednesday, the latter hitting three 3-pointers among his six field goals. Evelyn also handed out a team-best four assists.

–          Kiser chipped in eight points and a team-high six rebounds, while sophomore Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) came off the bench with four rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals.

–          Valpo shot 44.2% for the game (23-for-52), while Evansville hit at a 46.8% (22-of-47) clip. The Crusaders limited the Purple Aces to just six 3-point attempts while Valpo knocked down eight triples.

–          The Crusaders were unable to overcome a foul line disparity for the second straight game, as Valpo was just 5-of-5 from the stripe while Evansville (16-10, 6-7 MVC) was 16-of-23 from the free throw line.

–          Taylor led the Purple Aces with 31 points, going 10-of-23 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the foul line.

–          Valpo is still searching for its first win on the road in MVC play. The Crusaders have led or been tied at the half in five of their seven conference road games.

 

Next Up

Valpo (12-14, 3-10 MVC) hosts Illinois State on ESPNU Sunday afternoon at the ARC at 3 p.m. As always, the game can also be heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for all the live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.