MILWAUKEE | There’s no telling what Ryan Broekhoff’s career numbers against Milwaukee would have been had the Panthers moved to the Klotsche Center four years ago.
Broekhoff took advantage of Milwaukee’s on-campus arena, knocking down a career-high seven 3-pointers as Valparaiso dominated the Panthers 76-52 on Saturday afternoon.
The Valparaiso senior finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Crusaders kept a steady focus before Thursday’s nationally-televised game at Detroit.
“I felt normal to what I do every game,” Broekhoff said. “I went through my normal thing. It was a confidence thing.”
Broekhoff connected on his first 3-pointer four seconds into the game and made his first five 3-point attempts before he finally missed a perimeter shot in the second half. Broekhoff registered his third straight double-double and added four assists and three blocks.
“Once I got that first look, I got off the tip, and the defense separated,” Broekhoff said. “It probably wasn’t the shot that Coach (Bryce Drew) wanted me to take, but it went in.”
The Crusaders connected on 12 3-pointers, equaling their most in a conference game since they hit 15 triples against Detroit in the 2011 Horizon League tournament. The 24-point margin of victory was the largest road conference win since a 74-42 win over Chicago State on Jan. 21, 1999.
“This is a rare thing for a Valpo-Milwaukee game,” Drew said. “(Milwaukee coach) Rob Jeter teams are always very physical. This was one of our superior games of the year.”
The Crusaders tallied 18 assists to just 11 turnovers and hounded Milwaukee with seven steals and eight blocked shots. Senior guard Erik Buggs had three steals and four assists while pulling down four rebounds.
“The guys were looking for the extra pass,” Buggs said. “If another guy has a better look, we’re probably going to get the ball over to them.”
Kevin Van Wijk had 12 points on just seven shots for the Crusaders (13-5, 3-1), while Matt Kenney (11 points) and Lavonte Dority (10 points) also finished in double figures.
“Valpo played like they’re supposed to play,” Jeter said. “Their role players are patient. That’s the best thing about them. Physically they were very tough.”