Crusaders Pull Away Late For MVC Win Over Illinois State


A 16-2 run late in the second half broke open a tight game as the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team claimed a nationally-televised win at the ARC on Sunday afternoon over Illinois State, 74-58. Sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) led all players with 22 points, the second-best effort of his career.


How It Happened

–          A back-and-forth contest early saw Illinois State pull out to a five-point lead five minutes into the game at 13-8 following a Taylor Bruninga 3-pointer. The Redbirds maintained a slim advantage over the next few minutes, but never pushed their lead past five points.

–          A dunk from sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) sparked a 6-0 Crusader spurt which gave Valpo a 25-24 lead with 5:52 to play. Milik Yarbrough connected from the floor for Illinois State on its next possession, but senior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) responded with a 3-pointer for Valpo, and the Crusaders would never trail again.

–          Valpo eventually took a 37-35 lead into the halftime break.

–          While the Crusaders would never even fall into a tie in the second half, they also couldn’t pull away early on. Over the first 11 minutes of the half, Valpo’s advantage swung between one and six points.

–          A basket at the rim by senior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) with 8:30 to play pushed the Crusaders’ lead to 51-44, but Illinois State cut the lead to just two points within a minute, with Bruninga’s triple making it a 51-49 game with 7:25 to play.

–          Evelyn responded on Valpo’s next possession with a 3-pointer of his own to spark the 16-2 run over a span of 3:30 – a stretch which saw the Crusaders score on six out of seven possessions.

–          After a stop, Walker got inside for a layup to push the lead to seven points, and following a second-chance basket for the Redbirds, Evelyn connected on another triple. A turnover by ISU then led to a Crusader runout, and Evelyn lobbed to Golder for the fast-break dunk to force a Redbird timeout as Valpo led 61-51 with 5:16 to play.

–          Two possessions later, a missed 3-pointer by the Crusaders led to a mad scramble on the floor for the rebound. Emerging from the carnage was Walker, who managed to get two hands on the ball while on the ground and rip it away from ISU hands. From the floor, the senior kicked it back out to Evelyn, who launched a 3-pointer without hesitation and drilled it.

–          Joseph followed with a 3-pointer on Valpo’s next trip to cap the 16-2 run as the Crusaders cruised from there.


Inside the Game

–          Evelyn ended the game 7-of-13 from the field and was 4-of-7 from 3-point range for his game-high 22 points. The 22-point effort was his second-highest output of the season, trailing just his 30-point performance against UNCW, and marked the third time in the last five games he has scored at least 20 points.

–          Golder went 7-of-10 from the floor for 16 points off the bench, just two points off of his career best.

–          Walker tallied 14 points, six rebounds, five assists – tying a career high – and three steals, while Joseph finished with 12 points – including 10 in the second half – to go with five assists and three steals.

–          Sophomore John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) played 30 minutes off the bench and paced Valpo with nine rebounds to tie a career high as the Crusaders out-rebounded Illinois State (14-12, 8-6 MVC) 36-32.

–          Valpo shot 49.1% from the floor for the game and was 9-of-20 from 3-point range. The Crusaders limited the Redbirds to 37.9% shooting, including just a 26.7% clip (8-of-30) from the 3-point line to lower their defensive 3-point percentage to 30.5% on the year.

–          William Tinsley led the Redbirds with 13 points, while Yarbrough contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds. Illinois State committed 18 turnovers which the Crusaders turned into 20 points.

–          The win was Valpo’s first over Illinois State since 1945, as the Redbirds had won six straight in the series. This year is the first that the two squads have met since 1981.


Next Up

Valpo (13-14, 4-10 MVC) returns to action with the short trip to MVC leader Loyola on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3 and, as always, heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso), with the links to the live coverage available at