Valpo Rallies from 12 Down, Tops Tulane to Close Nassau Championship
A career night from sophomore Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) and a gutsy team performance down the stretch made a 12-point second-half deficit no match for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team on Wednesday night in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Less than 24 hours removed from a heartbreaking defeat to Coastal Carolina, Valpo responded in positive fashion by rallying past Tulane 68-64 in the third-place game of the Nassau Championship. The team faced adversity in more ways than one, including having to play the final 3:46 without leading returning scorer Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place]), who was tagged with his fifth foul. But head coach Matt Lottich’s team battled through it all to best the Green Wave and secure a winning week at the Baha Mar Convention Center.
How It Happened
- Valpo drained a pair of early triples, with Trevor Anderson (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]) and Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) both converting from behind the arc in the first four minutes. Anderson hit his second 3 at the 14:55 mark of the first half to put Valpo in front 11-8.
- The Green Wave owned a slight edge throughout the middle part of the first half, but a Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach Lakes, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) blocked shot on one end of the court led to an Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) triple on the other that helped Valpo tie the game at 19 with 7:12 remaining.
- The Beacons continued to get good looks from 3 when Anderson hit his third of the game with 5:12 remaining in the opening half to vault the team back in front 22-21. On the next possession, Anderson assisted on an Edwards triple that made it 25-21 Valpo.
- Edwards connected from distance again at the 3:19 mark, and the Valpo lead stood at five. However, the Beacons didn’t score over the next 3:18 and the Green Wave embarked on a 10-0 run. Half of the Tulane points during that stretch came on free throws by Jaylen Forbes, who made five straight with five seconds on the clock. He was fouled shooting a 3, and a technical foul was whistled against the Valpo bench.
- Edwards got to the rim and laid one in to beat the halftime horn, helping Valpo pull back to within three at the break.
- Valpo hit a rough patch offensively early in the second half, missing its first seven 3-point attempts after halftime. The Beacons also turned it over seven times in the first 10 minutes of the half. The Tulane lead built all the way up to 12 at 52-40 midway through the period.
- Edwards knocked down a 3 with 8:11 remaining to trim the deficit to nine, then he swished a fastbreak triple at the 7:03 mark to decrease the deficit to five. The Green Wave got it back up to seven at 58-51 with 6:30 to play, but freshman Keyondre Young (Del City, Okla. / Del City) – who received 12 minutes of run on Wednesday after logging just four total seconds in the event’s first two games – made a massive 3 on a Gordon assist to slim the Tulane lead to four at 58-54 with 5:31 on the clock.
- Young came through again at the 3:58 mark, this time on an Anderson find as he converted a triple while being fouled, and eventually polished off a four-point play that shrunk a six-point lead to two at 60-58.
- Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) scored despite being fouled with 2:33 remaining to trim the deficit back down to three, then Valpo finally got back to even when Edwards drained a fastbreak 3 that was set up by Anderson with 2:04 to go, creating a 63-all deadlock.
- Edwards split a pair of free throws with 1:37 on the clock to tie the game, and Valpo continued to get stops defensively. With the game even at 64 and 29 seconds left, Gordon made a challenging layup in traffic that he banked high off the glass and in, putting Valpo ahead 66-64.
- Edwards swiped a steal with 19 seconds on the clock, then peeled into the left corner of the frontcourt as he gained the handle on the ball and zig-zagged around Tulane defenders to run time off the clock. The sophomore was fouled with eight ticks remaining, and hit both free throws on a huge 1-and-1 to put Valpo ahead 68-64, which stood as the game’s final score.
Inside the Game
- Edwards finished with a career-high 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 5-of-12 from 3. His previous personal best of 20 came on two occasions last season (vs. SIUE, vs. Drake). He also established a career watermark in made 3s after previously having drained four on three occasions.
- Edwards stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds, three steals, three blocks and four fouls drawn to go along with his scoring outburst. The three steals equaled a career high (third time), while the three blocks were behind only his four-rejection performance against UIC on Nov. 13.
- By erasing a 12-point hole, Valpo secured its largest comeback victory since Jan. 28, 2021, when the Beacons caused a 14-point deficit to vanish in a win over Bradley. This was the 17th time during the Matt Lottich Era (sixth season) that Valpo has come from double figures down for a victory.
- The 34 3-point attempts were Valpo’s most in a game since Jan. 28, 2021 vs. Bradley (also 34), and that game went to double overtime. This was Valpo’s most 3-point attempts in a regulation game since firing off 35 in last year’s season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Kithier gobbled up eight rebounds including three on the offensive glass while accruing eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. The 6-foot-8 forward also gave out a team-high five assists, the highest total of his collegiate career. His previous personal best was three on five occasions.
- Anderson posted a well-rounded line of 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He drained three first-half 3s, his first game this season with multiple made triples.
- Young had seven points, nearly doubling his season total of eight over the first five games. Gordon finished with seven points and five boards on a night that included the key shot to give Valpo the late lead.
- Valpo’s bench outscored Tulane’s 30-11 in a game Valpo won despite trailing for 24 minutes and leading for eight.
- In all three Valpo games in Nassau this week, the team trailing at halftime rallied to prevail.
- After holding Coastal Carolina to just 4-of-19 (21.1%) from 3 on Tuesday, Valpo limited Tulane to 5-of-19 (26.3%). The Green Wave shot just 37 percent overall on Wednesday, the lowest total by a Beacon opponent this season.
Valpo (2-4) will travel back to the States on Thursday in advance of Saturday’s home date with Trinity Christian at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.