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Valpo grabs first place in Horizon League with win against Green Bay | The Catch and Shoot

Valpo grabs first place in Horizon League with win against Green Bay

VALPARAISO, Ind. — Valparaiso missed five out of seven free throws in the last two minutes Friday but still earned a crucial win against Green Bay.

With Green Bay star Keifer Sykes on the bench with thumb injury and the Crusaders struggling from the charity stripe, Phoenix guard Carrington Love hit two 3-pointers in a big run to bring his team within 59-57 at the 35-second mark.

However, Valpo freshman Tevonn Walker sank two big free throws with 20 seconds to go, and the Crusaders prevailed 63-59 over the Phoenix. With the Valpo win and the Cleveland State loss to Detroit later the same night, the Crusaders (23-4, 10-2 Horizon) are now in sole position of first place in the Horizon League

“I told the team after the game that they should fire me as their free throw shooting coach,” Valpo coach Bryce Drew said.

Walker finished with 20 points and was perfect from the free throw line.

“It was very mentally tough for Tevonn to hit those huge free throws for us,” Drew said.

However, the Crusaders would not have needed those clutch shots from Walker had they converted several other opportunities at the charity stripe earlier. They missed five free throws in a row at one point during the final two minutes.

This was an important win for Valpo, but keep in mind Sykes, a Horizon League Player of the Year candidate, was out of the game during the final stretch. With his thumb swelling, Sykes couldn’t get a good grasp of the ball when he tried to dribble and shoot.

He finished with 7 points and shot just 2-of-13 from the field.

“I just tried to keep (Sykes) in front of me,” said Walker, who was matched up with Sykes in the backcourt.

Walker wasn’t the only difference maker as sophomore forward Alec Peters earned a double-double even though the Phoenix double-teamed him every time he touched the ball. Peters scored all 12 of his points and grabbed most of his 10 rebounds in the second half.

Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle was forced to use backup forward Kenneth Lowe after Alfonzo McKinnie earned his third foul with 15 minutes to go in the second half, and Peters used that to his advantage.

“I tried to get to the offensive boards and make plays that way,” Peters said. “I just was doing whatever I could to win the game.”

The Crusaders did really need a team effort tonight and they got many contributions off the bench. With starting center Vashil Fernandez on the bench with foul trouble, Jubril Adekoya stepped up for Valpo. The Tinley Park alum scored 8 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 28 minutes.

The first place Crusaders will travel north to Milwaukee as they will battle the Panthers on Sunday at 1 pm.


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