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Poor Shooting Crusaders’ Nemesis Wednesday in Loss at UC Riverside

 

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team struggled shooting the ball Wednesday evening at UC Riverside, falling behind early and never recovering in a 73-60 loss to close out the non-conference slate.

How It Happened

          The Crusaders were unable to bust the UCR zone in the first half, as they shot just 1-for-16 from 3-point range over the opening 20 minutes and just 21.4% overall from the field.

          A 10-0 run with the score tied 2-2 provided the initial cushion for the Highlanders. Then, trailing 20-5 just over eight minutes into the game, Valpo scored the next four points before Riverside answered with a 14-4 run to push the lead above 20 points.

          Senior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) scored Valpo’s final six points of the first half as the Crusaders trailed 37-19 into halftime.

          After UC Riverside increased its lead to 22 in the second half, a 6-0 Crusader spurt closed the deficit to 16 points with 10:45 to play. The Highlanders put together a 9-2 run, but Valpo responded with eight straight points to make it 55-40 with 5:42 to go.

          Trailing 61-42 with 4:15 to play, the Crusaders rattled off seven straight points in a span of 1:45 to close within 61-49, as close as they had been since the midway point of the first half. But the Highlanders hit 12 of 16 free throws down the stretch to keep Valpo at bay.

 

Inside the Game

          Valpo closes the non-conference slate at 9-4 – just the second time in the last six seasons it hasn’t reached double figures in wins before league play.

          The Crusaders finished the game just 4-for-32 from the 3-point line and shot just 33.3% from the field overall.

          Valpo finished the game 14-of-19 (73.7%) from the foul line, while the Highlanders were 31-of-42 (73.8%).

          Joseph tied his career high with 15 points to lead the Crusaders, while sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./ Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) finished with 13 points.

          Sophomore Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) paced Valpo on the boards with seven rebounds as the Crusaders out-rebounded the Highlanders, 39-31.

          Valpo tallied 13 steals as a team on Wednesday, the second time this year it has reached double figures in steals in back-to-back contests.

          Dikymbe Martin led all players with 30 points for UC Riverside (4-7), while Chance Murray added 16 as well.

Next Up

Valpo (9-4) opens up its first season of Missouri Valley Conference play following Christmas, as the Crusaders make the trip to Terre Haute next Thursday, Dec. 28. The game, set for a 6 p.m. CT tip, will be broadcast on the MVC TV Network, including in the Valpo market on NBC Sports Chicago. Links for the live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.