Men’s basketball: Valpo rolls in return home
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or firstname.lastname@example.org November 23, 2013 4:52PM
Valparaiso University's Jordan Coleman hangs on the rim after he dunks the ball on a breakaway past James Madison's Yohanny Dalembert during their game held at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso on Saturday November 23, 2013. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 25, 2013 6:46AM
VALPARAISO — That home cooking sure tasted good to the Crusaders on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Against a James Madison squad that reached the NCAA Tournament last season and won a first-round game, Valparaiso did almost everything right after the 11-minute mark of the first half and cruised to an 81-49 victory to end a three-game losing streak.
The Crusaders (3-3) had lost all three games on their recent road trip, but now has won all three home games early in the season.
“It’s nice to play at home,” VU coach Bryce Drew said. “It’s been almost two weeks and quite a bit of travel. The guys played hard and made shots. It was a conscious effort on the defensive end, which didn’t happen in our last game (a 100-92 loss at Evansville).”
The Crusaders shot 58 percent (29-of-50) from the field, and that came with three freshmen starting for the first time since Dec. 9, 2009 (against Purdue). Lexus Williams was 5-of-7 for 12 points, while Alec Peters was 4-of-10, but 5-of-5 from the free-throw line for 15 points of his own. Jubril Adekoya got his first start after not getting much playing time on the road trip, and went 3-of-6 for eight points.
“It was exciting, but we just wanted to focus on playing defense from the start,” Adekoya said, sticking to Drew’s script that’s embedded in his players, even as freshmen.
The two additional freshmen starting (Peters had been in the lineup most of the season) meant seniors Jordan Coleman and Bobby Capobianco came off the bench. And that was fine with them as Capobianco had six points — including 1-of-2 from 3-point range to bring his opportunistic season total to 8-of-10 — and Coleman was quite impressive returning to his role from last season.
“Jordan was very good off the bench for us last year,” Drew said. “He had one of our better games of the year, only missing one shot.”
Coleman was 6-of-7 from the field (2-of-3 on 3-pointers) for 16 points.
The Crusaders trailed 18-12 with about 11 minutes left in the first half when everything started to click during a 36-6 run over the next 16 minutes — rebounding and defense inside, the transition game, outside shooting, you name it. They even added some crowd-pleasing plays, like a pair of monster dunks by Coleman and two acrobatic layups by LaVonte Dority, who finished with 15 points and five assists.
“We played with energy on defense and that triggered our offense,” said Dority, who had three of the team’s 12 steals. “We take pride in not losing at home.”
The Crusaders have a chance to stick to that mantra with three more home games during the upcoming holiday week, with Central Florida next on Tuesday night.