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Valparaiso leads wire-to-wire in blowout of Milwaukee

Updated: February 14, 2013 7:02AM



MILWAUKEE — No issues going on the road. No looking ahead to Thursday’s showdown at Detroit.

Just a thorough performance from Valparaiso against Milwaukee.

The Crusaders routed the Panthers 76-52 on Saturday at the Klotsche Center, leading from start to finish behind Ryan Broekhoff. Valparaiso (13-5, 3-1 Horizon League) matched its largest margin of victory since it joined the Horizon League, done two other times, and posted its most lopsided conference road win since a 74-42 decision at Chicago State on Jan. 21, 1999.

“This is a rare thing for a Milwaukee-Valpo game, because it always usually comes down to the last possession. … This was one of our superior games of the year,” Crusaders coach Bryce Drew said. “I’m really proud of our team that we came in and played the way that we did, because we had to, especially against a Rob Jeter-coached team.”

Since the Crusaders became members of the Horizon League, six of their 11 previous games against the Panthers (4-13, 0-3) had been decided by three points or fewer.

But this one was over early.

Valparaiso got right to business, taking a 12-2 lead less than four minutes into the game, with Broekhoff scoring eight points, including two 3-pointers — the first coming with four seconds elapsed, and the second bouncing off the rim, high into the air and through. He finished with 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting (tying a career high for field goals made), including 7-of-9 from 3-point range (setting a career high for 3s made in a game, after he had made six three times), and 10 rebounds, his third straight double-double. Broekhoff also had three of the Crusaders’ eight blocked shots and four assists.

“Once I got that first look, I got off the tip and the defense kind of separated,” Broekhoff said. “It probably wasn’t what Coach wanted to start the game, but if it went in, it’s a little bit better. I definitely got the confidence going early, and my teammates were fantastic in finding me in open spots.”

Kevin Van Wijk had 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Matt Kenney 11 and LaVonte Dority 10.

“The teams are too good in our conference to ever think that you can just come in and win,” Drew said. “You have to not only show up, but you have to play a good game to have a chance to win. I was very pleased our guys were motivated and very energetic to start the game.”

Valparaiso moved the ball exceptionally well, and had 18 assists. The Crusaders shot 49.2 percent (29-of-59) from the field, including 61.5 percent (16-of-26) in the second half, and went 12-of-31 from 3-point range.

“Guys were just looking for that extra pass,” senior point guard Erik Buggs said. “That’s one thing about our team, we’re really unselfish.

If another guy has a better look, the ball’s probably going to swing that way. Today was one of those days where everything looked and felt good. Those extra passes were turning into extra points.”

At the other end, Valparaiso limited Milwaukee to 34.0 percent shooting (17-of-50), including 29.2 percent (7-of-24) in the first half, a combination of tough Crusaders defense and sketchy Panthers shot selection. The Milwaukee guard tandem of Paris Gulley and Jordan Aaron had 18 and 10 points, respectively, but on 6-of-16 and 4-of-12 shooting. Demetrius Harris had 14 points.

“Those two are probably one of the best backcourts in the conference,” Buggs said. “We knew coming in that would be a tough matchup. We just had to stay focused and stay locked in. You can’t take a play off with those guys otherwise they can have a really, really good night.”

After Valparaiso’s early burst, Milwaukee drew to 21-16. But the Crusaders started raining 3-pointers in the last four minutes of the half. Will Bogan initiated the binge, followed by Broekhoff and Dority twice (split by two Gulley free throws) to give Valparaiso a 33-18 lead with 47 seconds left.

The Crusaders proceeded to score the first eight points of the second half to lead 41-20 with 16:26 left. The Panthers moved to 45-31 with 12:14 left, before the Crusaders reeled off seven straight points — with the last five from Bogan, including a 3-pointer — to build a 64-38 cushion with 6:58 left.

“Valpo played like they’re supposed to play,” Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said. “They’re picked to be the best team in the league, and they played exactly like that.

“We played a team tonight that played up to their capabilities, and we didn’t play up to ours.”

Around the rim: Valparaiso last had played at the Klotsche Center in the 2002-03 season, a 75-61 loss. Milwaukee had won 13 straight Horizon League games at the building, including last season’s conference tournament win against UIC, and were 22-3 in its last 25 games there. The Panthers have not called it their permanent home since the 2002-03 season, and Saturday was the first time they played a regular-season league game there since the end of the 2003-04 season. When asked what he liked about the Klotsche Center — where Valparaiso had a considerable contingent of fans on Saturday — Broekhoff said, “Everything. “We had a great support base, which is fantastic being on the road. Obviously, winning games in the Horizon League on the road is key, and to have that fan support really gave us that extra motivation when we made good plays, when we got stops. It’s always good to have the crowd on your side.”



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