Valpo Drops Opener at Evansville, Snaps Winning Streak
A three-game winning streak for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team came to an end on Sunday afternoon at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. Despite another strong showing from reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place), Valpo was on the wrong side of a 70-52 final in a game that saw host Evansville (7-8, 5-4) shoot above 60 percent.
How It Happened
- The Purple Aces started the game on a 7-0 run, and Valpo found itself trailing 11-2 by the 15:56 mark. Shamar Givance knocked down a 3 with 13:20 on the clock to open up the first 10-point lead of the day for the hosts at 16-6.
- Connor Barrett (Chicago, Ill. / Loyola Academy) helped Valpo get back to within five when the freshman sharpshooter drained a 3 at the 11:26 mark. Krikke did everything in his power to keep his team in the game on the offensive end, but the Brown & Gold struggled to get stops for the remainder of the half.
- Valpo was within five at 30-25 with 5:11 to go in the half, but the Purple Aces went into the break on a 7-2 spurt to double the lead to 10. Valpo started to play better on the defensive end of the court, but went cold offensively late in the half.
- Evansville came into the game ranked 10th nationally in made 3-pointers per game, but it was from 2-point territory where the Aces did the bulk of their damage, going 12-of-13 from short range in the first half by getting the basket with regularity.
- Krikke was the bright spot of the half, converting six of his eight shots en route to 16 points, one shy of his best scoring half of the season (vs. Missouri State).
- Evansville came out in the second half and continued to play well, getting a basket on the opening possession before earning a pair of free throws with a steal and drive to the basket.
- By the time the half was five minutes old, the Aces had opened up their largest lead of the day at 50-31.
- Goodnews Kpegeol (St. Paul, Minn. / North [Southwest Mississippi CC / Kansas State]) saw his first action in the last four games and provided a spark off the bench, while Barrett knocked in a key 3 as Valpo cut the lead back to 12 with 8:35 to go, playing much of that stretch with the team’s top two scorers on the bench.
- Valpo would get no closer the rest of the way as Evansville cruised to the 18-point victory.
Inside the Game
- Evansville’s ability to create easy looks was the biggest factor in the game’s outcome as the Purple Aces shot 60.4 percent from the field, the first time Valpo has permitted an opponent to shoot over 60 percent since Dec. 3, 2019 at Eastern Michigan. The Aces were 23-of-30 (76.7 percent) on two-point shots.
- Krikke has now scored 18 points or more in three straight games, hitting 18 points exactly for the second straight contest on Sunday. He did so on 7-of-9 shooting with 16 of his 18 points coming in the first half. The sophomore forward reached double figures for the 12th time this season while leading the team in scoring for the fourth time this year.
- Nine of Eron Gordon’s (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall])13 points came after halftime as the fifth-year senior scored nine points or more for the seventh straight contest and enjoyed his sixth double-figure output in that stretch. Gordon went 4-of-5 from the field and 4-of-4 at the free-throw line.
- The defeat snapped a three-game winning streak and saw Valpo incur its first road loss in Missouri Valley Conference play this season.
- Valpo fell to just 6-42 all-time at Evansville and has now dropped 23 of the last 24 when visiting the Aces with the lone victory coming last season in overtime.
- Evansville outscored Valpo on points in the paint 44-24 and had three players score 17 points or more – Shamar Givance (19), Jawaun Newton (17) and Samari Curtis (17).
- Valpo’s second leading scorer Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton) was held to a season-low three points, his lowest output in his last 33 games dating back to last season. He will look to follow the lead of Krikke, who followed up his season low in Game 1 at Illinois State with a career high in Game 2 during last weekend’s series.
Valpo (6-10, 3-4) will look to battle back to split the series on Monday as the teams will rematch at 6 p.m. at the Ford Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the Valpo Sports Network (95.1 FM Valparaiso, TuneIn Radio app) with links to live video, audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.