SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — LaVonte Dority’s Valparaiso debut was a highly successful one.
The South Florida transfer scored a game-high 20 points, helping the Crusaders post a 62-54 win at Missouri State on Saturday night.
Dority went 4-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range, and 9-of-10 from the foul line, in 24 minutes.
“LaVonte Dority, in his first game, gave us a huge lift,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “If he doesn’t play tonight, we probably lose. He was tremendous.”
The Crusaders (7-3) actually trailed 26-24 at halftime, hampered by nine turnovers. But they opened the second half on a 13-4 run to take a 37-30 lead, sparked by a lineup change, with Dority and Bobby Capobianco joining Ryan Broekhoff, Kevin Van Wijk and Erik Buggs.
Drew said he wanted to go a little bigger and get the ball inside, with Capobianco at the four, Broekhoff at the three and Dority at the two.
“They played with a lot of energy, and it went through all our guys,” Drew said. “They were key to getting us off to a good start in the second half.”
Valparaiso led 42-34 on a Broekhoff 3-pointer off a Dority steal, and 47-35 on a Ben Boggs 3. The Bears (2-8) drew to 51-46, 56-52 and 58-54, but Valparaiso held off their rally attempt.
Broekhoff had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Capobianco added 10 points, and Van Wijk nine points and nine rebounds.
“I thought Bobby had his best game in a Valpo uniform,” Drew said.
The Crusaders improved to 2-3 on the road, and play again on Monday at Oakland.
“I told our guys, winning in college basketball on the road is difficult, so this is a great victory,” Drew said. “Their (the Bears’) record is not indicative of how good they are.”