MVC Tournament Notes – This marked first time in MVC Tournament history that both the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds lost in the quarterfinal round. Valparaiso becomes just the second No. 7 seed in tournament history to advance to semifinal round, joining then No. 7 Bradley which beat then No. 2 Creighton, 76-68, in 1998 quarterfinal round. The Valpo win ends a streak of 21 straight years that the No. 7 seed lost in quarterfinal round. This also is the third straight year a No. 2 seed failed to advance to semifinal round.
Valparaiso Win: The Crusaders, winning their third straight game, moves to 18-15, while making their first ever appearance in semifinal round of MVC Tournament. Valparaiso ends a seven-game losing skid to Loyola.
Valparaiso Team, Player Plaudits – This marked the largest deficit (45-27 with 15:44 left in second half) the Crusaders had rallied from to win game during Matt Lottich coaching era. Previous was 17 points in 65-62 comeback win at Illinois State Feb. 15 Ryan Fazeka led Crusaders with 15 points, tying a season high with five treys. Guard Daniel Sackey, held to two points in first half, added 13 points, while tying career high with six rebounds. John Kiser collected 12 points, eight rebounds and the steals, while Donovan Clay had 10 points, eight rebounds and a career high seven assists. Javon Freeman-Liberty set school sophomore single-season scoring mark with 575 points. Valparaiso, which went 0-10 beyond the three-point arc in Thursday win vs. Evansville, had 10 treys marking the 11th game this season making 10 or more in game to improve its record to 8-3 when that feat occurred.
Loyola loss: The Ramblers drop their first ever game to Valpo since the teams joined the Missouri Valley Conference, and now stand at 7-1 as MVC foes. Loyola drops to 21-11 on the season overall, and 7-6 in the MVC. They miss the semifinals for the first time since. 2017. Loyola falls to 1-1 against Valpo in MVC Tourney games.
Loyola Team: Keith Clemons, who averaged 10 points in his two previous outings against Valpo, scored a career-high 28, including 17 first half points. It is the highest scoring game for a player in this year’s tournament. It’s the second time as a Rambler Clemons has hit the 20-plus mark. Freshman Tom Welch knocked down a trey at 15:44 in the second half to tie his career high of 5 points. Loyola’s top two scorers were held down. Cameron Krutwig had just 9 points and Tate Hall had just 3.
First Half: Valpo jumped ahead 7-2 early but Loyola knotted the game 7-7. The game stayed close and Loyola got the lead back at 16-14 on three free throws with 10:30 left and sent its run to 10-0 over three minutes for a 21-14 edge before Valpo stopped the run with a trey. Valpo got within 21-19 before Loyola went on a 10-0 run to take a 31-19 lead with three minutes to play. Valpo ended that run with another trey by Eron Gordon at 2:25. Loyola got a quick surge to build to its biggest lead with a 36-22 intermission margin. Loyola is 18-5 when leading at halftime. The Ramblers hit .520 (13/25) in the first half to .333 for Valpo (9/27). Valpo led on the boards 19-16. Keith Clemons of Loyola easily outpaced all other scorers in the game as he hit 4/5 threes and 5/7 over to punch up 17 first-half points.
Second Half: With a 66-62 lead with 1:12 left in regulation, Loyola made just 2 of 6 from the foul line, including missing the front ends of two bonus situations. Loyola got a trey with 15:40 to pull out to its biggest margin of the game at 45-27. Valpo pulled back to within 11 at 47-36 with 13:13 to play and closed to 47-38 a minute later. Daniel Sackey made it a 9-0 run with two free throws with 11:30 left. Valpo was still within seven at 53-46 with 7:45 left. The teams kept the Loyola lead between 7 and 10 points into the final four minutes of the contest. Valpo got within 6 at 66-60 with 2:00 to play and a putback by Javon Freeman-Liberty made it 66-62 with 50 seconds remaining. Loyola got two free throws but Valpo answered with a pair of threes in the final 40 seconds to tie the game at 68-68 with 10.6 seconds left. Valpo didn’t get a shot off and a loose ball gave Valpo a chance with three seconds left but the Crusaders could not connect from long range.
Overtime: Loyola broke a 70-70 tie with one free throw with three minutes left and Valpo answered with 1:35 left on a layin by Donovan Clay to put Valpo ahead for the first time since early in the game at 72-71. Loyola misfired on four straight possessions before Cameron Krutwig went to the line with 13.0 seconds left. He made both for a 73-72 lead but Eron Gordon got loose underneath for Valpo to score with 3.3 seconds left. Loyola missed a midcourt shot at the horn.