Balanced Effort Leads to Valpo Men’s Basketball Win Over UC Riverside

by | Dec 3, 2018 | Headlines, RRSN News | 0 comments

Balanced Effort Leads to Men’s Basketball Win Over UC Riverside

 

Five players scored in double figures and the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team led nearly start to finish in an 82-73 victory over UC Riverside at the ARC Sunday afternoon.

 

How It Happened

–          UC Riverside took a 2-1 lead on the game’s first field goal 1:17 in before freshman Javon Freeman (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) converted a layup 18 seconds later to give Valpo the lead for good. Freeman’s basket started a 9-0 Valpo run which saw four different players score, capped by a fast-break layup from senior Deion Lavender (Alton, Ill./Marquette Catholic [UAB/Southern Illinois]) to force an early UC Riverside timeout with the score 10-2 just 3:28 in.

–          Just past the midway point of the first half, Valpo scored eight straight – including a pair of 3-pointers from junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) – to extend its lead to 30-16 with 6:47 to play in the period.

–          UC Riverside scored the next nine in a stretch of 86 seconds, but Valpo came back with a 7-1 spurt. A 3-pointer from junior Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) with 3:33 to play in the half returned the lead to double figures. Only a putback by UCR’s Ajani Kennedy right before the halftime buzzer kept it from being a double-digit lead at the break, as Valpo’s lead was 44-35.

–          The story of the second half was Valpo maintaining the lead, never able to put away the Highlanders but also never seeing its advantage seriously threatened. A 3-pointer from UCR’s Kennedy cut the lead to 57-52 with 12:23 to play in the game, but Valpo out-scored the Highlanders 13-5 over the next seven minutes to extend its lead to 13 points.

–          UCR scored on each of its next five possessions, the last a 3-pointer from Dragan Elkaz, to cut Valpo’s advantage to just 76-71 with 2:39 remaining. The Highlanders had the ball with a chance to make it a one-possession game, but a miss was followed by a Lavender elbow jumper to make it a seven-point lead with 1:32 to go.

–          UCR’s Dikymbe Martin connected on a deep jumper on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to five, but junior John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) was fouled on Valpo’s next trip and calmly sank both ends of a one-and-one to again make it a three-possession game. UCR missed twice on its next trip, and Evelyn hit a pair of free throws for the final margin.

 

Inside the Game

–          Valpo’s offense was clicking on Sunday, as the team shot at a 60% clip from the field and hit 9-of-18 from the 3-point line. The 50% mark from 3-point range was the team’s best of the year, while the overall field goal percentage was Valpo’s best against a Division I opponent since hitting at a 60.4% mark in a win over UIC on Jan. 8, 2015.

–          Valpo dominated the paint, doubling the Highlanders’ output from in close, 44-22. Valpo also out-rebounded UCR, 32-24, and tallied 17 assists against just 10 turnovers.

–          The quintet in double figures was paced by 18 points from junior Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville), who hit 8-of-13 from the field and also grabbed six rebounds. Smits has now led Valpo in scoring in four of the last five games.

–          Golder enjoyed one of the best offensive games of his career, connecting on 6-of-8 from the floor – including 3-of-4 from deep – for 16 points to match his season high.

–          Junior Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind./Marquette Catholic [Providence]) knocked down four of his six 3-point attempts in finishing with 14 points.

–          Lavender stuffed the stat sheet as he has been wont to do all season long. The graduate transfer went 6-of-8 from the floor for 12 points, grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and handed out a game-high seven assists against just one turnover.

–          Evelyn tallied 10 points to round out the group of five Valpo players in double figures. Freeman finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting and handed out three assists, while freshman Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Manitoba/Thornlea) chipped in four rebounds and four assists off the bench.

 

Next Up

Valpo (5-3) faces a quick turnaround, hosting High Point at the ARC Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN3.

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