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Men’s basketball: Valparaiso fights off IPFW

Bobby Capobianco left Ryan Broekhoff celebrate basket with six minutes left Crusader's game against IPFW Valparaiso Wednesday Dec. 5 2012.

Bobby Capobianco, left, and Ryan Broekhoff celebrate a basket with six minutes left in the Crusader's game against IPFW at Valparaiso Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012. The basket put VU up 53-41. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 7, 2013 1:28PM



VALPARAISO — For about the past month, Ryan Broekhoff has been ill.

It turns out Valparaiso’s star senior has mononucleosis, a diagnosis he received last week leading up to the game at Saint Louis.

Broekhoff has been limited in practice. But he hasn’t seemed limited in games, including the Crusaders’ 63-52 win against IPFW on Wednesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

He had 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists, sparking Valparaiso’s efforts to shake the pesky Mastodons.

“I still have ups and downs. … A couple days I’ll feel really good, a couple days I’ll be pretty tired and lethargic,” said Broekhoff, who has gotten medical clearance to continue playing. “But when it comes to game time, I know my teammates have my back, and that gives me energy, and it gives me the will to push through any lagging effects I feel.”

Said Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew: “He’s never complained.”

In recent seasons, the Crusaders (6-2) have had their share of struggles against IPFW (5-5), including having lost three of the previous four games between the teams. And this game followed along similar competitive lines, until Broekhoff essentially took over.

His 3-pointer stretched Valparaiso’s lead to 48-41 with 8:11 left, after his previous shot from deep had rimmed in and out. He added a runner less than a minute later. And after Luis Jacobo was called for a technical foul following a traveling call on him, Broekhoff made the second of the two free throws.

For good measure, he grabbed an offensive rebound and, almost in one motion, threw a sweet pass underneath to Bobby Capobianco for a layup, giving the Crusaders a 53-41 cushion with 6:09 left.

Drew described Broekhoff as “unbelievable tonight in so many different areas,” adding “it’s just spectacular what he’s done, and what he does for our basketball team.”

“I was just trying to make plays for the team,” Broekhoff said. “There was really nothing special, nothing extraordinary I did. I just wanted to help the team in any way I could. If that meant scoring, if that meant diving on the ball, if that meant taking a charge, I’d do anything.”

That rebound-assist to Capobianco — “That save was kind of the icing on the cake,” Drew said — was the highlight.

“I was at the top, and I saw the shot looked kind of short, so I tried to get to the rack inside,” Broekhoff said. “I believe it was (Frank) Gaines that was trying to box me out, and I was able to slip past him just. When the ball came in my direction, it was kind of a battle between me and I believe (Mario) Hines. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Bobby run under the rim wide-open. I didn’t really look when I threw it, I just prayed it would find Bobby when I let go. I kind of heard the crowd erupt, so I was pretty happy with the way the play unfolded.”

Capobianco provided his perspective.

“I was just trying to find a lane to give him somebody to pass it to, so he didn’t have to go out of bounds,” he said “As soon as I caught it, I couldn’t believe how absolutely wide-open I was. I just laid it in real quick. It was a heck of a play — he pretty much just out-willed everybody else out there on the court. As his teammates, we tried to do everything we could to help him finish that play. All the credit goes to him for that hustle.”

Gaines led IPFW with 19 points, but he had 14 in the first half on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, and missed all five of his shots in the second half. Ben Boggs did the heavy lifting defensively.

“I thought Ben did a phenomenal job denying, really pressuring him, really trying to take him out of his comfort zone,” Broekhoff said.

The Crusaders limited the Mastodons to 31.4 percent shooting (16-of-51) in the game, including 20.0 percent (4-of-20) in the second half.

“I was really happy with our team defense tonight,” Drew said. “I thought we played one of our better team defensive games of the year.”

Kevin Van Wijk had 12 points and six rebounds, and Capobianco added nine and four in 17 minutes, after going scoreless in 10 minutes at Saint Louis.

“The big guys got together before the game, and we needed to prove to

ourselves after the last couple of games that we could be bigger and

tougher and stronger, and play a more physical game on a more

consistent basis,” Capobianco said.



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