by Rick Kindhart
Valparaiso knocked down 11 3-pointers and shot 59 percent from the field to turn back visiting Missouri State, 89-74, here Tuesday in MSU’s final road game of the Missouri Valley season.
Donovan Clay led four Crusaders in double figures with 22 points and 7 rebounds, while Ryan Fazekas was 5-of-6 from 3-point range to finish with 20 points.
The Bears (14-16, 8-9 MVC) were led by Gaige Prim with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Isiaih Mosley posted 13 points off the bench.
Missouri State showed resiliency in the first half, erasing a seven-point deficit and turning it into a 31-27 advantage late in the opening stanza. But Valpo knocked down all five of its first-half 3-poitners in the final four-plus minutes to stay a step ahead of MSU and lead 41-39 at the intermission.
But the home side stepped on the gas to open the final period, scoring the first eight points of the final period to lead 49-39 and force a Missouri State timeout. Valparaiso would eventually push ahead 56-42 at the 14:41 mark with Clay leading the charge and Eron Gordon knocking down a long-range three.
The Bears responded with a 12-3 run to get within 59-54 with 10:54 to play. The run started on a put-back from Ross Owens and included five points from Mosley and five more from Prim to get back in the contest.
The home standing Crusaders (16-14, 9-8) answered with a 12-2 outburst of their own over the next three minutes to push ahead 71-56. The Bears would get as close as 74-64 on Prim’s three-point play at the 5:50 mark, but another 12-0 run from Valparaiso followed to put things out of reach.
For the game, Missouri State was 27-of-58 (.397) from the field and 7-of-20 (.350) from 3-point range. The Bears were 13-of-17 (.765) from the foul line and out-rebounded Valparaiso by a 39-33 margin with 21 second-chance points.
Valpo was 34-of-58 (.586) overall from the field and 11-of-22 (.500) from bonus distance while converting 10-of-16 (.625) free throws.
In the first half, both teams produced 20 points in the paint, but Valparaiso’s Ben Krikke netted two of the Crusaders’ five triples to push the home side ahead by two at the midway point. The Bears dominated the glass in the first 20 minutes, 25-13, including 12 offensive caroms that led to 15 second-chance points.
The Bears trailed 14-7 just under seven minutes into the game, but roared back to tie it, 24-24, on a 3-point play by Keandre Cook, who finished with 12 points. A 7-0 run by Missouri State later in the half included a spinner from Mosley, two free throws by Prim and a trey from Ja’Monta Black pushed MSU ahead 31-27 at the 4:43 mark.
Valparaiso knocked down all five of its first-half 3-pointers in the last four minutes of the half to take a slight edge into the intermission.