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Valpo bench comes up big

VALPARAISO — Matt Kenney’s back? Yep, seemed relatively OK.

Foul trouble for Kevin Van Wijk? Enter Bobby Capobianco.

Valparaiso’s bench, including Kenney and Capobianco, shined in an 86-61 dismantling of UIC on Tuesday night at the ARC.

And LaVonte Dority actually was the Crusaders’ leading scorer among their reserves.

Kenney missed Friday’s win against Milwaukee because of a back injury, and had played just six minutes in a loss at Youngstown State. But the senior guard returned to action with a flourish, entering the game for the first time at the 15:07 mark of the first half and playing 19 minutes against the Flames. He had nine points — making all three of his shots, including both 3-point attempts — five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“It’s better,” Kenney, who had returned to practice on a limited basis on Monday after having not practiced since the Green Bay game on Jan. 23, said when asked about his back. “Once I get going, it kind of loosens up. That’s when it feels the best. But it’s getting a lot better. … I’m just doing what I can to try to help the team.”

Said Crusaders coach Bryce Drew: “It was great to have Matt Kenney back. … He came in and really gave us a great boost.”

With Van Wijk in foul trouble virtually the entire game against the Flames and playing just six minutes, Capobianco nearly recorded a triple-double in a season-high 28 minutes. He had 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting, nine rebounds and nine assists; he had entered with eight assists in 19 games this season, increasing his total to 17, after he also had 17 in 57 games in two seasons at Indiana.

“Kevin came out and gave us great energy off the start,” said Capobianco, who also had played well against Milwaukee, with eight points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. “Whenever my number’s called, I just try to come in and keep the energy high, and make plays that can help our team win games.”

Van Wijk picked up his second foul with 17:24 left in the first half, and sat the final 9:43 after picking up his third. He was whistled for his fourth with 36 seconds elapsed in the second half, and did not return. Oddly, the Horizon League’s leader in field goal percentage was the only Crusaders player of their 10 available not to score.

“He (Capobianco) brought energy,” UIC coach Howard Moore said. “He brought some urgency, just activity. He was going. He played very, very well. It was almost like Van Wijk was still out there, because he was still getting things happening. … Older guys, guys that are veterans — he’s been in the Big Ten — he knows how to play. He had a different step that our guys didn’t have.”

Dority had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Jordan Coleman added nine points, including seven straight — two putbacks sandwiched around a 3-pointer — that gave Valparaiso a

77-43 lead with 8:29 left in the game. Vashil Fernandez got into the scoring column with 2:18 left.

“Everyone stepped up big,” Kenney said.



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