Game No. 5
Evansville 100, Valparaiso 92
The script played out the same for Valparaiso on Wednesday night as the Crusaders fell behind big in the opening moments, only to stage another late rally that came up short. Evansville led by 25 at the half and had the lead up to 27 before the Crusaders stormed back and cut the deficit to six. D.J. Balentine led five Evansville players in double figures with 32 points.
Game Ball -- What else can be said about Alec Peters? Alec's journey to his tornado-damaged hometown of Washington, Ill. was covered here, here and here before Wednesday's game against the Purple Aces. Peters traveled six hours back from Ohio on Sunday, hopped in a car Monday morning, worked all day in the tornado relief effort and drove back to Valpo Tuesday morning before taking an afternoon charter flight to Evansville with the team. Peters could've had the worst game of his career on Wednesday and he still would've been worthy of the Game Ball. Instead, the freshman connected on seven 3-pointers and had 30 points while wearing an orange ribbon that honored his family and friends in Washington. This kid really is something special.
Air Ball -- 5:36. 4:19. 6:13. That's how long it has taken Valparaiso to trail by double digits in each of the last three games. Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew mentioned five travel days in the last eight days and that Wednesday's game reminded him of the slow start at Nebraska last season after coming off the 7 a.m. ESPN Marathon tip against Northern Illinois. If fatigue is an issue, common sense would indicate that it would kick in late in the game, not in the early stages. I know adrenaline factors in and if that's the case, the Crusaders need to start playing five-on-five full-court during the 60 minutes they have on the court during warm-ups. This team is gutsy enough to battle back in these games, but sooner or later this team will realize that winning is a lot easier when there isn't a double digit margin hanging over their heads.
Quotable -- "We'll definitely evaluate where we are in terms of the starting lineup and we were are in terms of putting players in the best situations where we can be successful."
Whistle It, Just A Little Bit -- The Crusaders were called for 28 fouls while Evansville was whistled just 14 times on Wednesday night. Some of the calls against Valparaiso were bordering on absurd according to Valparaiso play-by-play announcer Todd Ickow. Granted, a chunk of the fouls were late in the game when the Crusaders were trying to battle back, but a +19 free throw attempt advantage for Evansville went a long way in determining the outcome of this game.
Catching Fire -- Jubril Adekoya was just the spark the Crusaders needed in the second half. The freshman entered the game with just over 15 minutes remaining and took just one short breather until the end of the game in his first extended Division I minutes of the season. The Chicago native delivered with four points, three rebounds and six assists. Drew prefers an eight-man rotation, but Adekoya may have earned some minutes on Wednesday night.
Goliath Lives -- Neither David Chadwick or Nick Davidson saw the floor against Evansville. Davidson has appeared sparingly early in the season while Chadwick averaged a handful of minutes in each of the first four games.
#More3sBobby -- Bobby Capobianco knocked down his only 3-pointer of the night and is now shooting 78 percent from the perimeter. The senior is the aim of plenty of message board angst, yet he has delivered when called upon from long distance. Capobianco is shooting 60 percent from the floor this season.
Up Next -- The Crusaders (2-3) return home from their three-game road trip for a four-game stay at the ARC beginning on Saturday afternoon against James Madison.