Valpo Drops Nonconference Matchup at Big East Foe DePaul
The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team incurred a 77-58 setback to Big East Conference member DePaul in a nonconference clash on Saturday afternoon at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) scored a team-high 12 points in Valpo’s first game against the Blue Demons since 1980, an 11th-hour addition to the schedule after both schools had conference games postponed this week.
How It Happened
- Valpo got off to a solid start in the first few minutes of the game as Gordon knocked down a triple on the team’s opening possession and Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind. / Merrillville) recorded an early basket.
- Gordon had five early points and Valpo trailed 13-7 and eventually 19-9 with 10:15 left in the first half. Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada / Thornlea) had the fastbreak basket that made it 19-9, but after that Valpo endured a long scoring drought. DePaul put together a 13-0 run to break it open at 32-9 with 6:57 left in the half.
- Valpo got to the free-throw line regularly over the final seven minutes of the first half, chipping away at the deficit. After trailing by as many as 24 in the opening 20 minutes, Valpo had the margin down to 15 at 41-26 when the game went to halftime.
- After trailing 53-37 with 13:49 remaining, Valpo scored six straight to cut the deficit to 11. With Valpo down 55-44, a steal by Goodnews Kpegeol (St. Paul, Minn. / North [Southwest Mississippi CC / Kansas State]) set up a Valpo fastbreak and a chance to cut the lead to single figures, but the Brown & Gold couldn’t convert the opportunity.
- The Blue Demons (2-5) scored the next 16 points, building up a 27-point edge with 5:31 to go.
- After trailing by 30 with 3:24 remaining, Valpo used an 11-0 run to cut the final deficit to 19. Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) had three late baskets as the three freshmen provided a late lift over the final four minutes.
Inside the Game
- Kpegeol had a season-high seven rebounds to share the team lead with Gordon. After entering the game with 11 total rebounds this season, the junior college transfer pulled down seven boards on Saturday. Kpegeol also went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to finish with eight points in addition to swiping three steals.
- Gordon led the team with 12 points, pacing the squad in scoring for the second straight game after not doing so in any of his first 44 career contests at Valpo. The senior also led the team in rebounding for the fourth time this season. This marked his second straight game with seven rebounds, one shy of his career high that occurred in the season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Sackey contributed nine points and six boards to equal a career high on the glass. This marked Sackey’s fourth career six-rebound game and first this season. He was a bright spot, adding three assists and no turnovers at the point-guard spot to his stat line.
- Valpo outscored DePaul at the free-throw line 19-14, the first time this season the team outscored its opponent at the free-throw line and lost. Previously, Valpo was 0-7 when being outscored on foul shots and 3-0 when outscoring the opponent at the stripe.
- The foul line was a bright spot for Valpo, as the team went 19-of-23 (82.6 percent), its second-best free-throw percentage of the year behind 83.3 (20-of-24) at Central Michigan.
- Valpo shot 34 percent from the field and went 3-of-15 (20 percent) from 3-point distance.
- Romeo Williams led DePaul with 20 points, while Charlie Moore had 14 and Pauly Paulicap chipped in 11.
- This game was Valpo’s latest regular-season nonconference game since hosting Eastern Kentucky as part of ESPN’s BracketBusters event on Feb. 23, 2013.
- Valpo and DePaul matched up for the first time since Feb. 13, 1980. It was Valpo’s first game against a Big East team since Nov. 27, 2006 at Marquette. This defeat snapped a four-game winning streak against current members of the Big East with all four victories coming against Butler when both teams were in the Horizon League.
Valpo (3-8) will return to conference play for a home game against Loyola on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center.