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Men’s Basketball Season Comes to an End Friday in St. Louis

 

The 2018-19 season came to a conclusion Friday afternoon for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team, as ninth-seeded Valpo fell to top-seeded Loyola, 67-54, in quarterfinal action at Arch Madness in St. Louis.

 

How It Happened

–          Loyola started the game on a 9-0 run over the opening 4:30, as Valpo missed its first six shots from the field and also committed a pair of turnovers in the early going. Junior Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) got Valpo on the board 4:34 into the game with a jumper in the paint.

–          Loyola extended its lead to 14 points less than eight minutes into the ballgame, but Valpo scored seven of the next nine – getting a 3-pointer from freshman Javon Freeman (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) and baskets from juniors Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) and Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) – to close the gap to nine points at 20-11 with 9:21 to play in the half.

–          But Valpo would score just one basket over the next seven-plus minutes, as Loyola went on a 15-2 run over the stretch to extend its lead to 22 points. The Rambler advantage was 22 at halftime, 40-18.

–          Sorolla scored four points and junior Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) three points as Valpo outscored Loyola 7-3 over the first 4:18 of the second half to close to within 43-25.

–          Loyola would go on a 13-4 run over the next four-plus minutes to push its lead to 27 points, and after nine straight from Valpo – including five from freshman Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Man./Thornlea) – made it a 56-38 game with 7:50 to play, the Ramblers scored seven straight points in less than a minute to extend back to 25 points.

–          Valpo ended the game by scoring 13 of the final 17 points, including the last seven over the last 3:09, to close to within the final margin.

 

Inside the Game

–          Loyola shot 51.9% on Friday to Valpo’s 36.2%, but the half-by-half breakdown shows the wide disparity. The Ramblers hit 64% in the first half versus the Crusaders’ 25.8% as Loyola led by 22 at the break, but Valpo shot 48.1% in the second half and held Loyola to 40.7% shooting in winning the second half by nine points.

–          After committing just seven turnovers in Thursday’s win, Valpo committed just 10 turnovers on Friday. The 17 turnovers over the last two games were the fewest combined miscues in consecutive games for the Brown and Gold this year.

–          Valpo blocked six shots on the day, tying its second-highest total of the year. Sorolla led the way with three rejections, giving him 95 career blocked shots – passing Harry Bell for sixth-most in program history.

–          Sackey came off the bench to pace Valpo on Friday with 11 points in 19 minutes – his sixth double-digit scoring effort of the season.

–          Sorolla and Freeman added nine points apiece. Sorolla knocked down his second triple in as many tries on the season to cap off his effort.

 

Inside the Season

–          Friday’s loss closed Valpo’s 2018-19 campaign with a 15-18 overall record. Valpo moved up two spots in the MVC standings this year and also earned its first win at Arch Madness.

–          Freeman picked up one last steal on Friday to finish the year with 60 steals – third-most in a single season in program history. Only Lubos Barton in 2001-02 and Scott Anselm in 1988-89 tallied more steals than Freeman did this season.

–          In addition to breaking Valpo’s freshman steals record, Freeman finished with 364 points – surpassing Bryce Drew’s freshman campaign on Friday for the fourth-most points by a freshman in program history – and 142 – besting Sorolla’s freshman year total of 140 boards for fifth place in Valpo’s freshman annals.

–          Freeman is one of just two rookies in program history who holds freshman top-five marks for scoring, rebounding and steals, joining Lubos Barton.

–          Smits led Valpo this year in both scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.7 rpg) and posted a 59.4% field goal percentage – the seventh-best single-season mark in Valpo history.

 

Inside the Career

–          Friday was the final game of collegiate eligibility for graduate transfer Deion Lavender (Alton, Ill./Marquette Catholic [UAB/Southern Illinois]). Lavender finished his final game with four points, three rebounds and two assists.

–          In his one season in a Crusader uniform, Lavender averaged 7.8 ppg on 50.5% shooting from the field. He also finished second on the team in rebounding (5.0 rpg) and led the team and finished second in The Valley in assists (3.7 apg).

–          Counting all four of his collegiate seasons, Lavender finished with 726 career points, 372 rebounds and 289 assists.