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Valparaiso begins Horizon slate with season’s first loss at ARC

Valparaiso's KevVan Wijk goes basket with Loyola's Ben Averkamp defending first half Valparaiso University Wednesday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times

Valparaiso's Kevin Van Wijk goes to the basket with Loyola's Ben Averkamp defending in the first half at Valparaiso University Wednesday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 4, 2013 2:53PM



VALPARAISO — In the middle stages of the first half on Wednesday night, Ryan Broekhoff received a pinpoint pass in transition from Erik Buggs for what should have been an open layup — instead, the ball rolled all the way around the rim and out.

It was that kind of game for Valparaiso.

The Crusaders struggled to find an offensive rhythm against dramatically improved Loyola, falling 63-54 at the Athletics-Recreation Center in the Horizon League opener for both teams.

Valparaiso (10-5, 0-1) shot 20-of-56 from the field (35.7 percent), including 4-of-15 from 3-point range. The Crusaders missed 10 straight shots during a stretch in the first half, when they went 10-of-34, including 1-of-8 from 3.

“I thought early in the game, guys we’re going awful quick,” said Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew, whose team dropped to 7-1 at the ARC this season. “A lot of them really wanted to make plays, they wanted to get us off to a good start. The over-excitement kind of ran into maybe not the shots we’d normally take through the course of a game.

“We’ve played some games that are lower scoring. We can’t shoot 35 percent in our own gym and give up 47 (22-of-47 for 46.8 percent). Shooting, at the end of the day, if we make a couple more so we’re not chasing them at the end, it could be different. They shot the ball well, and we didn’t.”

Broekhoff had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Crusaders. Kevin Van Wijk (who had landed hard on his back early in the game) and LaVonte Dority (1-of-7 from the field, with his only basket coming with 8.8 seconds left) had 10 points each, and Buggs added nine.

Ben Averkamp led Loyola with 16 points. Christian Thomas added 14, and Cully Payne 13.

The Ramblers (10-3, 1-0) opened a 48-40 lead with 6:29 left as the 6-foot-8 Averkamp posted up the 5-11 Buggs on a mismatch — after Bobby Capobianco had missed a layup on the other end — following a strong drive by Payne. Thomas added a basket with 5:45 left, and Averkamp (over the 6-1 Dority) scored to make it 52-42 with 4:23 left.

Loyola went 9-of-10 from the foul line in the game’s final 1:20, including 7-of-8 from Averkamp.

“It’s awesome,” said Loyola coach Porter Moser, whose team ended a 10-game road conference losing streak. “We looked at it right out of the gate, wow, we have the No. 1 team on their home floor. But you have to keep things in perspective. With our guys, I never talk about home and road with them — never. You have to defend the same way, you have to box out the same way.”

Van Wijk’s three-point play drew Valparaiso to 37-35, and Matt Kenney’s drive made it 39-37, but Loyola answered with Averkamp’s three-point play and Jordan Hicks’ basket. The Ramblers had gone on a 7-0 run to take a 33-27 lead with 17:04 left, with Munster graduate Joe Crisman scoring the last five points.

Loyola used an 8-0 run — bookended by 3-pointers from Payne and Devon Turk — to grab a 16-11 lead with 9:56 left in the first half. The Ramblers led 26-24 at halftime, with Payne hitting a 3 with 1:25 left — he also got fouled on the play, though he missed the free throw — with Drew turning his back while the ball was in the air on the Iowa transfer’s third connection from deep in the half. Loyola went 5-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half.

“We knew Loyola was really good coming in. … We knew we’d have to play a really good game,” said Drew, whose team was coming off an impressive win at Murray State.

“We came back today and just didn’t have the energy, and didn’t play as well.”



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