Men’s basketball: Not enough energy for Valparaiso comeback
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or firstname.lastname@example.org January 10, 2014 10:54PM
Valparaiso's Alec Peters drives to the basket past Wright State's Miles Dixon (behind)during their game held at Valparaiso University on Friday January 10, 2014. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 12, 2014 6:12AM
VALPARAISO — Following a dismal first half, you knew a run would be coming. That’s just the way the Crusaders roll at the Athletics-Recreation Center this season.
Fall behind in the first half — thanks to sloppy play — then come back after halftime with the raucous crowd adding to the energy in the building.
But on Friday night, the Crusaders didn’t quite have enough energy or magic to complete the comeback. They cut a 17-point halftime deficit to one and had a point-blank lay-in to take the lead, but that shot didn’t fall and Wright State closed out the game on a 23-7 run to pull off a 62-45 victory over Valparaiso.
“Definitely not the way we wanted this game to go,” said VU coach Bryce Drew in a bit of an understatement. “We dug ourselves a 17-point hole, cut it down to 39-38, but Wright State made some shots down the stretch. When you put so much emotion into a run, it’s hard sometimes to get that second run.”
Yes, that final margin was the same as the halftime score despite the Crusaders (9-9, 1-2) cutting the lead to 39-38 with 11:12 remaining after a dunk by Vashil Fernandez.
After a defensive stop, Alec Peters had a huge chance to give VU the lead, but he missed from deep in the paint with 10:29 left, and the Raiders (10-8, 2-1) breathed a sigh of relief. They also erased the bad memory of the last time they were in the ARC when they lost in the Horizon League Tournament championship last March.
“We felt like it was a redemption game,” WSU guard Miles Dixon said. “It left a bad taste in our mouths after losing the championship last year. It was nice for our seniors getting their first win at the ARC.”
Not only was it the first victory at Valparaiso for the WSU seniors, but it’s also the first road win of the season for the Raiders after eight straight losses.
It was a game of streaks: Valparaiso started hitting almost every shot in the first five minutes, then the Crusaders couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn the rest of the first half, missing four lay-ups off the glass.
Then came the first nine minutes of the second half when VU heated up again, hitting seven field goals after hitting that many in the first 20 minutes. Wright State, meanwhile, went 1-of-14 from the field in that span.
“I think we got complacent getting it down to one point and thinking the momentum would keep carrying over,” Valparaiso freshman Alec Peters said. “I think we’re going to figure out how to finish in that situation next time.”
There were only three double-figure scorers in the game, led by Dixon’s 12.
“They punched us in the mouth, but we hung tough and came back,” Dixon said.
Turnovers hurt the Crusaders again as the Raiders had 10 more possessions in the contest. Valparaiso had 14 — nine of them in the first half — while Wright State only had four after coming into the game ranked 301st in the country in turnovers.
“If you would have told me we would have 14 turnovers against Wright State coming in, I would have taken it,” Drew said. “This will be a good learning experience for our freshmen.”
Jordan Coleman was the Crusaders’ leading scorer with 10 while the team’s top scorer, LaVonte Dority, was held to six points on just 1-of-4 shooting.