Short-Handed Valpo Squad Falls to Drake Saturday

by | Jan 27, 2019 | Headlines, RRSN News | 0 comments

Short-Handed Valpo Squad Falls to Drake Saturday


Playing most of the game without its top three scorers, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team battled gamely against Drake at the ARC Saturday night and was within four with 3:44 to play before running out of gas down the stretch, as the Bulldogs left Valpo 70-59 victors.


How It Happened

–          Drake scored the first five points of the game, but a 9-2 spurt gave Valpo an early 9-7 lead just over five minutes in.

–          The Bulldogs scored the next eight points, but the Brown and Gold responded with seven straight of their own – including five points from junior Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) – to regain the lead, 16-15, with 10:56 to play in the first half.

–          The last 12 minutes of the first half were played within a six-point span, as it was a one-possession game the entire time. An inside basket by freshman Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Man./Thornlea) put Valpo ahead 23-21 with 4:51 to play in the half, but Drake would score eight of the final 11 points of the half to take a 29-26 lead into intermission.

–          Valpo evened the game at 35-35 3:28 into the second half on a steal and fast-break basket from Sackey, but that tie would last just 23 seconds, as Drake’s Garrett Sturtz connected on a 3-pointer on the Bulldogs’ next possession.

–          A 3-point play from sophomore Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) cut the Drake lead to 41-39 with 12:17 to play. The Bulldogs would go on a 9-2 spurt at that point, however, to extend their lead to nine points.

–          An inside basket from Sorolla and a 3-pointer by junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) on back-to-back possessions brought Valpo back to within 52-48 with 7:30 to play.

–          That was the first of three times down the stretch that Valpo cut Drake’s edge to four points, the others coming with 4:17 to play on a Sorolla layup and 3:44 remaining on a pair of free throws from freshman Javon Freeman (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young). All three times, the Bulldogs responded with points on their next possession.

–          Drake scored seven straight points in a span of 90 seconds, starting with 3:05 to play, to put the game away.


Inside the Game

–          Valpo was playing without leading scorer Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind./Marquette Catholic [Providence]) due to injury for the fifth straight game.

–          Second-leading scorer Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) was ruled out due to injury shortly before the game. Then, third-leading scorer Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) went down while being fouled leading into the under-16 media timeout of the first half. He exited seconds after shooting his free throws following the timeout, and did not return.

–          Leading the way in the scoring column Saturday were Sackey and Sorolla, who shared team-high honors with 13 points. Sackey matched his career high with the 13 points and also came up with a career-best four steals.

–          Meanwhile, Sorolla went 6-of-7 from the field for his season-high point total. The six field goals made matched his career best, while he set a new career high on the defensive end with five blocked shots.

–          Freeman added nine points and a career-high tying four assists without committing a turnover, while Evelyn contributed eight points and a season-best six rebounds off the bench.

–          Senior Deion Lavender (Alton, Ill./Marquette Catholic [UAB/Southern Illinois]) led all players on Saturday with nine rebounds.

–          With the rotation severely shortened due to injuries, minutes played piled up for a number of players.

–          Freeman played the full 40 minutes, the first time a Valpo player has gone the distance in a regulation game since Will Bogan and Erik Buggs played the full 40 in the NIT at Miami in March of 2012.

–          Sackey played a shade under 37 minutes, just the second time this year he has even cracked the 30-minute mark.

–          Sorolla played a season-high 28 minutes, the most time he’s logged on the court since going 30 minutes last year at Evansville.

–          Without its three leading scorers, the Valpo offense struggled from the field Saturday. The Brown and Gold shot just 37.9% (22-of-58) and were just 2-of-16 from the 3-point line.

–          Valpo did force 17 Drake turnovers and held a 21-12 advantage in points off turnovers.


Next Up

Valpo (12-9, 5-3 MVC) continues Valley play Tuesday evening when it hosts Missouri State at the ARC at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.


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