Spirited St. Louis stymies Valparaiso
Post-Tribune staff report December 2, 2012 11:00PM
Updated: January 4, 2013 6:18AM
Amid the emotion of the death of Rick Majerus, Valparaiso dropped a 62-49 decision at Saint Louis on Sunday.
The Crusaders (5-2) generally weren’t sharp either offensively or defensively against the Billikens (4-3), about a Top 50 team nationally based on various rankings.
“I thought we had stretches where we played well, and other stretches where their physicality gave us a lot of problems,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said.
Valparaiso shot 32.6 percent (15-of-46) from the field, including 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from 3-point range; the Billikens had been allowing opponents to shoot 50.8 percent from deep. Ryan Broekhoff had 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting — he made his first two shots for five points in the game’s first two minutes — and seven rebounds, and Kevin Van Wijk had 10 points on 2-of-5.
“We had some looks that we usually knock down that we didn’t, and their defense came out and pressured us and gave us a hard time,” Drew said.
“You counter that by moving the ball and making 3s; if we had made a few shots, it may have made them change things defensively.”
Saint Louis shot a season-high 55.6 percent (20-of-36) from the field.
Dwayne Evans had 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting and five rebounds; and Jordair Jett had 14 points on 5-of-7, six rebounds and seven assists.
“We had some breakdowns, but they were very efficient,” Drew said.
“With the emotion they’ve had the last 24 hours, I thought it was one of their better games with their performance. I’m not sure that I’ve seen them play at this high a level all year.”
The Billikens, as well as the entire basketball community, were mourning the loss of former coach Majerus, who died on Saturday after battling heart problems.
“There was a nice standing ovation before the game, they were chanting his name, and I think the players fed off that emotion,” Drew said.
The Crusaders led 19-15, before the Billikens went on a 10-0 run, capped by an Evans dunk with 3:35 left in the first half. Saint Louis led 31-24 at halftime.
The Billikens used another 10-0 run to lead 45-31, and they stretched their cushion to as much as 49-33. Matt Kenney, who had 10 points, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 53-43, and the Crusaders drew no closer than 53-45 with less then four minutes left in the game.