With a final score of 83-46, the Valparaiso University Crusaders defeated Division II opponent Trinity Christian.
The Crusaders scored the first point on a layup by center Derrik Smits.
“We were a bit tentative in the first half,” said head coach Matt Lottich in a conference after the game.
After the first layup by Smits, the Crusaders and Trinity Christian Trolls shot back and forth, keeping the score within a baskets distance. It wasn’t until over halfway into the first half that the Crusaders really started to gain some edge.
With 12 minutes to go into the first half, Trinity Christian’s Terrence Lacy got a fast break down the court. As he leaned in for a layup, Crusader Markus Golder leapt into the air and smacked the ball right out of the court, foiling the would-be field goal.
“It helps our confidence to face a team that runs pretty good action,” Smits said.
Despite the persistence of Trinity Christian, Mileek McMillan, Tevonn Walker, John Kiser and Smits all scored throughout the first half for the Crusaders, allowing Valpo to pull ahead.
A quarter of the way into the game, Walker stole the ball off of an inbound pass and sprinted down the court to dunk his 1,000th career point. The ARC erupted into cheers as Walker received high fives while resetting for the next play.
After three failed shots with just over seven minutes in the first half, a cluster of players crowded the paint. Walker managed to win the ball and found a shot, advancing the Crusaders 24-14.
The Crusaders continued this energy through the rest of the half, increasing the margin between them and Trinity Christian.
At the half, the Crusaders led with 40 points to 21.
Three minutes into the second half, Walker stole the ball from under TC center Nari Garrett, earning himself an undefended fast break, which he concluded with a dramatic dunk to advance the Crusaders 47-21.
Walker may have pleased the crowd with his slam dunks and his scoring, but he also hindered his opponents from gaining any edge.
“I just think about getting stops,” Walker said.
Halfway into the second half, Golder stole the ball from Garrett; determined, he sprinted down the court pursued by equally determined Trolls. Golder began his layup and was fouled, yet still put the ball successfully in the net, making the score 54-30. Golder was then awarded a free throw that advanced Valpo 55-30. For the remainder of the game, Golder continued to impress the crowd.
After Walker made two successful 3-pointer shots, Golder made himself another breakaway. Later, a dramatic slam dunk pushed the Crusaders even farther ahead to 73-39. The final score totaled Valpo 80 to TC 46.
The Crusaders head out to Edwardsville for a game Wednesday, Nov. 15, but come home again for a 3 p.m. game against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 19.