Second half success continues to come for men’s basketball as they won Sunday afternoon against North Dakota. Sophomore guard Javon Freeman-Liberty led the charge for Valpo with 21 points to his name. Valpo won the game 74-60, making it their third victory of the season.
“I’m very pleased with the effort. North Dakota had a really good game plan coming in. They let us run our action and then gambled defensively. It was the first time all year that an opponent had done that. It took us a bit to adjust, but we got going in the second half,” said Head Coach Matt Lottich.
Valpo and North Dakota fought for dominance in the first six minutes of the first half as they exchanged the lead five different times. Senior forward John Kiser reset the tempo and scored the next four in the paint, with redshirt junior guard Nick Robinson following up with a freethrow.
Freshman forward Ben Krikke grabbed the lead back again with a tough layup in the paint to make it 12-11. With six minutes left, Krikke hit a three point jump shot assisted by freshman guard Donovan Clay to extend the lead. Valpo ended the first half with 33-24 over North Dakota.
The second half was controlled by Valpo for the majority of the half. Valpo improved offensively, making half of their shots from the field to extend the lead to double digits. North Dakota would try to shorten the lead and make adjustments, but Valpo’s offense made more of their shots to keep the lead out of reach.
Sophomore guard Daniel Sackey stepped up with six assists, and junior forward Mileek McMillan had another career high 16 points.
“With the freshmen we have, the talent is there, there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes, executing our scheme is the concern, but Ben [Krikke] did a great job of that today. Defensively, he was locked in and offensively, he was very locked in,” Lottich said.
Lottich and his team will be taking a trip to the Virgin Islands to play in the Paradise Jam tournament during Thanksgiving Break. Lottich, alongside getting the chance to play tough competition, hopes to give his players the opportunity to experience a different part of the world and learn about new cultures.
“It’s all part of the process of educating these young men. They all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences,” Lottich said. “A big reason they came here was to play basketball, but another big reason was to receive a first class education. I think experiences with different cultures and different people ties into your education more than anything.”
Valpo begins the Paradise Jam against Grand Canyon University on Nov. 22 at noon central time.