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Valpo Struggles Offensively In Wednesday Loss at Bradley

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team suffered through its worst offensive performance of the season Wednesday night at Bradley, falling to the Braves, 67-42. With the loss, Valpo is locked into the 8/9 game on Thursday night at Arch Madness against Indiana State.

How It Happened
– Valpo started the game strong, outscoring Bradley 9-4 over the opening 5:16, as four different Crusaders scored in the game-opening stretch.
– Valpo would score just one basket over the next eight minutes, with Bradley pulling out to a 19-11 lead thanks to a 15-2 run.
– Bradley would extend its lead to as many as 11 points in the late stages of the first half, and Valpo eventually trailed 31-22 at halftime.
– Freshman Javon Freeman (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) knocked down the first basket for either team in the second half – a runner 1:49 into the period – to cut the deficit to seven points.
– But those would be Valpo’s only points over the first 7:30 of the second half, as Bradley scored the next 10 points following Freeman’s basket to extend its lead to 17 points.
– Valpo got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way, and Bradley ended the game on a 12-3 run for the final margin.

Inside the Game
– The loss moves Valpo to 7-10 in MVC play with one game remaining in the regular season. Valpo will finish in eighth place and will play Indiana State in the 8/9 game on Thursday at Arch Madness in St. Louis, with the only question being who the eight seed would be. If the Sycamores and Crusaders end the regular season tied in the standings, Indiana State would be the eight seed.
– Valpo’s shooting numbers were its lowest of the season Wednesday night. It connected on just 26.8% (15-of-56) from the field and was just 2-of-22 (9.1%) from the 3-point line.
– The 3-point performance was the program’s worst since hitting 5.9% from deep against Milwaukee on Dec. 29, 2011. Meanwhile, the field goal percentage was the worst since connecting on just 25% of its field goal attempts in the 2000 NCAA Tournament against Michigan State.
– Bradley hit 50% (24-of-48) from the floor and outscored Valpo on the fast break 13-2 on Wednesday.
– Junior Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) led Valpo with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
– Freeman added eight points and tied with junior John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) for team-high honors with seven rebounds as Valpo out-rebounded the Braves, 36-35.
– Junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./ Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) picked up a team-best three steals.
– Valpo played Wednesday without the services of Ryan Fazekas, sidelined with a thumb injury. Fazekas had been back for just four games since returning from an ankle injury.

Next Up
Valpo (14-16, 7-10 MVC) closes the regular season Saturday afternoon at the ARC as it hosts Evansville at 1 p.m. It will be Senior Day at the ARC, with senior manager Peter Funk and graduate transfer Deion Lavender being recognized in pregame ceremonies. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.