Valpo Drops Road Matchup with Preseason MVC Favorite
The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team outdid Missouri State after halftime, but a large deficit by the game’s midway mark was too much to overcome on Thursday night at JQH Arena in Springfield, Mo. Valpo trailed by as many as 21, but cut the deficit all the way down to seven by the time the clock hit all zeros with the hosts prevailing 67-60.
How It Happened
- It was an offensive struggle on both sides through the first two and a half minutes, but Missouri State broke through with a game-opening 7-0 run. Valpo played Missouri State even (60-60) the rest of the way, but the early hole proved pivotal.
- Zion Morgan (Chicago, Ill. / Kenwood [Wabash Valley/UNLV]) came off the bench to get Valpo on the board at the 15:47 mark, but Lamont West nailed a triple with 15:33 on the clock and it was 10-2 in favor of the Bears (10-10, 4-3 MVC).
- The lead reached double figures for the first time at 17-7 with 12:23 left in the first half, but a Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind. / Merrillville) 3-pointer brought Valpo to within six at the 8:43 mark. That basket put the score at 20-14, but Missouri State went on a 12-0 run to open up a 32-14 edge. Over the final 8:43 of the half, the Bears outscored the guests 16-2 to take a 20-point lead into the locker room.
- Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada / Thornlea) started the second half with a five-point burst, but the Bears followed by building the lead up to 21 at 42-21 by the 16:44 mark.
- Valpo chased by double figures for much of the second half, but the Brown & Gold fought to within eight with 6:35 to go. Valpo had it back within single digits when McMillan had a 3-point play to make it 57-49 with 2:10 remaining, but Valpo could never get over the hump.
- A much improved second-half performance saw Valpo outscore Missouri State 44-31, holding the Bears to just 24 percent shooting while hitting at a 44.1 percent clip.
Inside the Game
- Freeman-Liberty narrowly extended his streak of double-figure games to 20, finishing with 11 points. Sackey returned after missing the previous game with an injury and made his way into double figures with 11.
- McMillan led the team with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. He cracked double figures for the third straight game. McMillan’s three 3s tied his season high set at Evansville on Jan. 4.
- Valpo set the JQH Arena record with 39 3-point attempts, converting at a 20.5 percent clip. Valpo made six 3s in the second half, but went just 2-of-20 before the break. It was the most 3-point attempts in a single game by Valpo since at least the start of the 1989-90 season.
- Clay squeezed eight rebounds to lead the team, one shy of a career high. It was also his fourth game with two blocks this season, all in the last nine contests.
- Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind. / Marquette Catholic [Providence]) made his return to the court after missing 17 games with an injury. He knocked down a pair of 3s and finished with six points.
- Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) swiped four steals, matching his personal best set earlier this season at Southern Illinois. Kiser added three steals, tying a career watermark with his third three-steal game of the season and the fourth of his career.
- Keandre Cook had 27 points to lead all scorers.
Valpo (10-10, 3-4) will welcome Evansville on Sunday in a regionally-televised game on the MVC TV Network. The opening tip will occur at 4 p.m. from the Athletics-Recreation Center with links to live coverage available on ValpoAthletics.com.