DAYTON – Valparaiso made a statement in their first game in the Horizon League; that they were ready to compete in a new, tougher conference, as the pulled out a road win against Wright State 71-66 where the visiting teams rarely win.
Wright State on the other hand made two costly turnovers in the last 74 seconds of the game to lose the lead and let an important league game get away.
With a 66-63 lead and a 1:14 left in the game Wright State’s Vaughn Duggins threw an errant pass to Will Graham that got away and went into the backcourt for a turnover.
Valparaiso’s Shawn Huff scored on a feed by Jake Diebler at the 1:05 mark to tie the game at 66-66.
When the Raiders brought the ball down the court Todd Brown turned it over in the lane. Jarryd Lloyd then took a pass from Brandon McPherson under the basket and laid it in to go up 68-66.
After that Urule Igbavboa sank three of four free throws to get the score up to 71 points as Wright State (2-2, 0-1 HL) went scoreless for the last 2:36 of the game.
“Unfortunately for us in the last minute or so we didn’t close the game or maybe put them in real jeopardy and we had two costly turnovers,” said Wright State coach Brad Brownell. “It is part of young guys trying to figure it out.”
For Valparaiso coach Homer Drew he thought the turnover at half court was key. “The big key was when we were three down, Shawn (Huff) hit the big three and then we got a turnover. Then Jarryd’s (Lloyd) big 3-pointers in the second half were also key.”
Scoring at the end of a half was no easier for the Raiders in the first half as they scored only one basket in the last 5:16 seconds.
Of course, you could say that Vaparaiso (7-1, 1-0 HL) excelled in closing out each half with 14 points in the last 5:16 of the first half and eight points in the last 3:08 of the second half.
This game saw the score tied three times and the lead change 11 times including eight times in the second half.
To start the second half the Crusaders came out and scored five points in the first 40 seconds to go up 39-30 as McPherson hit a 3-pointer at 19:42 mark and then came back to put in a layup 22 seconds later.
Four minutes later the Raiders were up again by one point on two jumpers by Brown and a layup and four foul shots by Jordan Pleiman.
And back and forth it went until Valparaiso put the Raiders away for good.
“We came out with a nine point lead and it wasn’t but seconds later we only had a three point lead. They are really efficient and a very, very good basket ball team,” said Drew.
In the first half Wright State came out and took control pushing their lead until they went up 15-8 on a jump shot by Todd Brown with 12:54 left. At the 7:03 mark the Raiders went up 24-12 on a floater by Vaughn Duggins. Then two 3-pointers by Valparaiso’s Huff and a couple of free throws by Jared Lloyd and the score was 24-20 and that started a 20-3 run that lasted for six minutes.
Finally at the 2: 06 mark the Crusaders got the lead on a layup by Igbavboa 28-27.
As the half wound down with Vaparaiso leading 32-30 Huff took a feed from Lloyd with four seconds left and dunked it to put the Crusaders up 34-30 at the half.
Brownell thought the Raiders played a little better but they were a little thin on personnel and needed to learn how to close out games. “It is young guys learning how to win and how to make big plays when you need them. It is trying to find a way to get things done.”
Lloyd led the Crusaders with 18 points off the bench, 4 coming in the second half, while Huff and Igbavboa each scored 16 points.
Duggins led all scorers with 18 points while Wilson and Brown each chipped in 12 points for the Raiders.
-Wright State’s 15 game home court winning streak game came to an end tonight.
-Wright State leads the all-time series with Valparaiso 5-3.
-When asked about Valparaiso fitting into the Horizon League Brownell said, “When you look at our guys physically you would thing we are making the jump. You measure the size of players, age of experience, all those things, I think they look bigger than we did at most positions. If they were one of the best teams in the Summit League or Mid-Con then they are a team that is going to formidable in our league.”
-Valparaiso’s next game is on Saturday at Detroit at 2:05 pm.
-Wright State’s next game is at home on Saturday against 13th ranked Butler at 7:00 pm. The game is televised on ESPNU.