Hail Mary inbounds saves Valpo

Coach Bryce Drew’s go-to inbounds play pushed Valparaiso to a 58-56 victory Saturday over Cleveland State.

The win catapults the Crusaders to 3-1 in the Horizon League, second in the conference behind Green Bay. They are 16-3 overall, leading the nation in wins along with Gonzaga.

With Valpo leading 56-55, Drew called timeout with 35 seconds to go. The ball would be inbounded on the far side of the court.

Drew summoned the troops and dialed up the basketball version of the “Hail Mary.”

Sophomore forward Alec Peters inbounded the ball and hit a streaking Tevonn Walker in stride. Walker finished the bucket and was fouled in the process. Walker missed the free throw, which gave the Vikings a chance to tie with a 3-pointer.

With a three-point deficit, the Vikings looked to find their leading scorer, junior guard Trey Lewis, for a good look from beyond the arc. Lewis was fouled on a 3-point shot with two seconds to go, but he made just one of the free throws.

“It was a really intense game for the whole 40 minutes,” Drew said. “There weren’t any segments that you could relax or take off. We knew that we couldn’t take plays off. I think the other team would have taken advantage.”

Walker was assigned to Lewis on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday. Lewis came in averaging 16.6 points per game but scored only scored seven points against the Crusaders.

“[My goal for the night] was to lock him down,” Walker said. “I just wanted to make sure everything was tough on him every time he tried to shoot.”

Lewis was 0-for-5 from 3-point land and only made three shots from the field.

On the other side of the ball, Peters put his team on his back, and he used the 3-point shot to finish the job. Peters went 5-for-7 from deep and was the high scorer with 24 points.

“Any win in conference is a satisfying win,” Peters said. “Especially since we’ve got a week break until our next game, so this doesn’t have to sit with us. There’s a lot of things of things we could get better at, like turnovers.”

The Crusaders, who were coming off an eight-turnover performance against UIC, committed a total of 19 turnovers Saturday night.

The Crusaders will battle Wright State on the road next Saturday. Wright State is 2-1 in the Horizon League and 10-7 overall.

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