Men’s Basketball Comes Up Just Short at SIU Saturday Night
In a back-and-forth battle Saturday night at Southern Illinois, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team led by three points with 2:21 to play, but the Salukis scored the game’s final nine points as the Crusaders fell by a 65-59 final.
How It Happened
– In a game of spurts, the teams traded early runs. The Crusaders scored the game’s first three points before SIU scored six straight.
– Valpo answered with seven straight – including a 3-pointer from sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) and inside baskets by sophomore Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) and Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) – to take a 12-8 lead.
– The Crusaders extended their advantage to 19-12 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half on a 3-pointer by sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest [Ariz.] Academy/Southfi eld Christian [Nebraska]).
– SIU would hold Valpo scoreless over a stretch of nearly six minutes, going on an 11-0 run over the span to pull ahead 23-19.
– The Crusaders responded with a 10-0 run of their own over the next 3:30 to go ahead by six points. Golder connected on another 3-pointer during the run, while Evelyn had a pair of baskets as well.
– Each team scored just once apiece in the last couple minutes of the first half, as Valpo entered the locker room with a 31-25 halftime advantage.
– The teams traded baskets early in the second half, as each of the first five possessions – three for Valpo and two for SIU – resulted in made shots at the rim. Valpo’s lead was still eight points with 16:55 to play on an inside bucket from senior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College).
– With the advantage at six points a couple minutes later, SIU reeled off six straight to tie the game, but Valpo responded with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions from Walker and Evelyn to make it a 47-43 lead with 10:52 to play.
– The Salukis scored the next five points to take their first lead of the second half at 48-47 with 8:39 to go before Golder answered on Valpo’s next possession with a triple to regain the lead.
– SIU again pulled out in front briefly on a Tyler Smithpeters 3-pointer with 5:06 to play, but Evelyn had the answer on the other end with an old-fashioned 3-point play as Valpo pulled back ahead. The Salukis tied the game on their next possession, but two trips later, a Golder dunk made it 57-55 with three minutes to play.
– After SIU connected on one of two from the foul line, Walker made a pair at the stripe to push the lead to three points with the clock nearing two minutes. SIU’s Kavion Pippen converted a 3-point play to tie the game on the Salukis’ next possession, and Valpo missed shots in the lane on its next two trips.
– Armon Fletcher broke the tie with a 3-pointer from the corner for SIU with 44 seconds remaining to give the Salukis the lead for good. A pair of good looks from the 3-point line in the final 35 seconds would not fall for the Crusaders.
Inside the Game
– Walker paced three Crusaders in double figures with 16 points and added five rebounds.
– Evelyn finished with 13 points and set a new career best by pulling down nine rebounds – surpassing his eight-rebound performance against UNCW earlier this season.
– Golder matched Evelyn with 13 points off the bench. The sophomore also registered six rebounds and handed out a career-best five assists.
– Both Valpo and SIU shot 49% (24-of-49) from the field for the game. The Crusaders were 6-of-19 from 3-point range, while their strong 3-point defense continued, as the Salukis were just 3-for-15 from distance.
– The Crusaders couldn’t overcome the difference at the free throw line, as SIU went 14-of-24 from the charity stripe, while Valpo made just 11 trips and was just 5-for-11.
– Valpo was also undone by 17 turnovers – 14 of which were committed in the first half. Despite turning the ball over six more times than SIU, the Crusaders actually held a 13-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
– Pippen led Southern Illinois (16-9, 8-4 MVC), which remained in second place in the Valley standings, with 21 points as he went 9-of-11from the floor.
Valpo (12-13, 3-9 MVC) hits the road again next week for a Wednesday night game at Evansville. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and as always, the game can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3 and heard on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for all the live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.