Game No. 8
Mercer 117, Valparaiso 108 (3OT)
Both teams left everything on the floor on Friday night as the Bears scored the final nine points of the third overtime session to outlast Valparaiso. LaVonte Dority set a career-high with 31 points, including a 4-point play with 11.9 seconds left in regulation that eventually led to the first overtime. Bobby Capobianco also established a career-high with 23 points, including a layup with 16.3 seconds left to force the third overtime.
Game Ball -- There were so many twists and turns in this game that it's difficult to pick one recipient of the Game Ball. Kudos to Dority for scoring 26 of his 31 points after the first half and essentially taking over the game until Capobianco stepped in during the extra sessions. The two seniors became the stars of the game that looked to be defined by the freshmen in the early stages. The youngsters combined for 20 of Valparaiso's first 24 points before cooling off in the second half. Lexus Williams scored all of his career-high 15 points in the first half and Alec Peters missed nine straight shots at one point. Both made big plays down the stretch and shook off the struggles.
Air Ball -- As deep as this team looks to be on some nights, the Crusaders were essentially five-handed after Capobianco fouled out with 3:33 left in the third overtime. Injuries sidelined Jordan Coleman and David Chadwick on Friday night and fouls got the best of Moussa Gueye and Vashil Fernandez. With Capobianco out, Jubril Adekoya had to play the five and Clay Yeo came in off-the-bench. With Yeo in, the Bears went right at him as Bud Thomas scored a layup with 2:51 left. Mercer would never trail again.
Quotable -- "I was hot to start, but you can never have the mentality that you're cold. You just have to keep shooting and hope the shots go down. It didn't happen for me until overtime, but I just kept going after it." -- Valparaiso freshman Alec Peters on second-half shooting woes
Deja VU -- Friday night wasn't the first triple overtime game that Bryce Drew has been apart of at the Athletics-Recreation Center. As a freshman, Drew led the Crusaders to an 88-85 win over Western Illinois in the 1995 Mid-Continent Conference title game. Because of mass defections from the Mid-Con to the (gulp) Horizon League the year before, the conference lost its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and the winner of the game got a pat on the back and that was it.
Medical Report -- Jordan Coleman suffered an ankle injury in the early stages of the first half and was limited to just eight minutes. The senior got his ankle retaped and tried to play again in the first half, but lasted just one possession. Coleman played four more minutes in the second half, but was shut down for the rest of the game. No word on the severity of the injury or what Coleman's status is for Saturday night's game against Cincinnati Christian.
Up Next -- The Crusaders get a short turnaround as they host Cincinnati Christian on Saturday night. The Eagles are 5-3 this season and recently lost to Greg Tonagel's Indiana Wesleyan squad by 19 points. The NAIA school isn't exactly an exhibition-level pushover and coming off a triple overtime game, this has danger written all over it for Valparaiso.