Ryan Broekhoff leads Valparaiso past Wright State
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org January 19, 2013 11:14PM
VU'S Erik Buggs applies defensive pressure despite the effort of Writgh State's Reggie Arceneaux during their game at the ARC Saturday Jan. 19, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 21, 2013 6:59AM
VALPARAISO — The overwhelming preseason favorite in the Horizon League has moved into first place during the season for the first time.
Behind a rousing final two-plus minutes from a to-that-point-relatively-quiet Ryan Broekhoff to spark another (mini-)rally, Valparaiso’s 69-63 win against Wright State on Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center handed the conference’s last remaining unbeaten its first loss of the season. So the Crusaders (15-5, 5-1) and Raiders (13-5, 4-1) are tied in the loss column, with Valparaiso holding a half-game lead for sole possession.
It might be early to standings-watch, but the Crusaders appear to have hit their stride, giving little reason to think they’ll relinquish the top spot any time soon. They’ve won five straight games, including this one and Thursday’s epic comeback at Detroit.
Of course, any sort of comeback would pale dramatically in comparison to that one, but Valparaiso did trail 51-44 with 7:44 left, not a tiny deficit against Wright State’s defense.
But Broekhoff eventually took over the game, scoring 12 of the Crusaders’ 14 points over the final 2:17, including the first 10 of that stretch. Before that binge, he had six points on 2-of-8 shooting, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, and 1-of-2 from the foul line; he proceeded to make his final three shots, including both 3-pointers, and his final four free throws.
“Full credit to Wright State’s defense,” said Broekhoff, who ended with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double in five games. “They were really physical with me, and took me out of the game for most of the game. They really denied touches, denied looks. Coming off ball screens, they were very aggressive, and they had a lot of help-side. Their defense was very, very tough.
“I really just waited for my time. When my plays were called and I was open, shoot it; if not, try to get someone else involved.”
Broekhoff’s 3-pointer with 2:17 left drew Valparaiso to 59-58. After Erik Buggs blocked a Reggie Arceneaux shot, Broekhoff hit two free throws with 1:28 left give the Crusaders their first lead since 7-5 less than three minutes into the game. Arceneaux answered with two free throws, but Broekhoff scored again with 54.6 seconds left. After Cole Darling missed a shot for Wright State, Broekhoff drained a 3-pointer with 23.7 seconds left, leaping into a half-turn and pumping his right fist into the air after giving Valparaiso a 65-61 edge.
Arceneaux hit two free throws, but on the inbound, Broekhoff fired a home-run pass to Matt Kenney for a layup to make it 67-63 with 17.1 seconds left.
“The Wright State team even called it out down there — they said, long ball, long ball, long ball, and it was still wide-open,” said Kenney, who had 15 points and six assists. “Coach Bryce (Drew) has drawn up a great play. I don’t know many times we’ve run it, how many times we’ve scored on it. …. (Broekhoff) hit me in stride.”
For good measure, Broekhoff added two free throws with 4.2 seconds left, after Arceneaux had missed a shot and Kenney missed a free throw, with Broekhoff tipping out the offensive rebound to sustain the play.
“Wright State’s very good, and I was really proud of our guys,” said Drew, whose five starters each played at least 30 minutes. “They stayed patient, they didn’t force shots or really rush into things.
They stuck to their defensive principles and we were able to get a few stops, make a few 3s.
“They (the Raiders) run their actions very, very well. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the country. I think it took us some time to get used to the tempo and pace that they were bringing on offense and defense.”
Darling scored a game-high 22 points for the Raiders; and Van Wijk had 18 and seven rebounds for the Crusaders, including 14 points in the first half.
“They changed their defense, and it was a little hard to adjust,” Van Wijk said. “In the end, I changed a little bit and it worked out very well; instead of posting all the time, I started screening more.”