Crusaders Fall to Ramblers Sunday at the ARC


The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the first half to take the lead early in the second half Sunday afternoon at the ARC against Loyola, but the Ramblers responded with a 16-1 run to take control as the Crusaders fell by a 70-54 final in Missouri Valley Conference action.


How It Happened

–          The lead bounced back and forth a number of times early on as both teams fought to seize control of a defensive battle in the first half. Sophomore Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) scored Valpo’s first six points to stake the Crusaders to an early advantage.

–          A six-point spurt from Loyola gave it a 12-8 lead eight minutes into the game before the Crusaders answered with a 7-2 stretch. An inside basket from senior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) capped that span and gave the Crusaders a 15-14 lead with 7:12 to play in the opening half.

–          The Ramblers scored the next nine points in a span of 2:30 to push its lead out to eight points, and made it a double-figure advantage at 27-17 with 2:42 to play in the half on a jumper from Donte Ingram.

–          Valpo would go into halftime trailing by just four, however, as Walker drove for a baseline dunk and Smits scored the final four points of the half to make it a 27-23 game at intermission.

–          The Crusaders continued the run out of halftime, getting a tip-in from Walker and a layup by Smits within the first 90 seconds of the half to tie the game at 27 apiece.

–          Loyola scored on each of its next two possessions, but the Crusaders responded with a Walker 3-pointer and an inside basket by sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) to pull ahead 32-31 with 16:07 to play.

–          The Ramblers scored on six of their next seven possessions over a four-minute span as they went on a 16-1 run to go ahead 47-33 before Evelyn snapped the run with a 3-pointer with 11:39 to go.

–          Valpo had one final push, closing to within seven as Evelyn scored on back-to-back possessions to make it a 52-45 game with 7:15 to go. But the Ramblers came down and made shots on either side of a Crusader miss on the front end of a one-and-one to push the lead back to 11 points, and Valpo would get no closer than nine the rest of the way.


Inside the Game

–          After shooting under 40% in the first half, both teams shot at better than a 50% clip in the second half. While the Crusaders were 12-of-22 from the field in the final 20 minutes, the Ramblers connected on 16-of-27 in the second period – including four 3-pointers.

–          Evelyn scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, as he went 7-of-9 from the floor over the final 20 minutes and also came up with three steals.

–          Walker and Smits each finished with 14 points as well, the latter matching his career high in the process as he went 4-of-6 from the field and 6-of-8 from the foul line.

–          Smits also tied for team-high honors with six rebounds, matched by sophomore John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) in his return to action. The Crusaders lost the battle of the boards to Loyola by a 34-27 margin.

–          Valpo tallied just six assists on Sunday and committed 13 turnovers, while Loyola (16-4, 6-2 MVC) – which maintained a share of first place in the MVC standings with its win – recorded 16 assists against just eight turnovers.

–          The Ramblers were paced by the play of Clayton Custer, who finished with 18 points, five assists and four steals.


Next Up

Valpo (11-10, 2-6 MVC) returns to action on Wednesday night at the ARC against in-state foe Evansville. Tip is set for 7 p.m., and all the action can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3 and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live coverage will be available via