VALPARAISO | Mike McCall hit a tip-in that barely beat the buzzer as Saint Louis escaped from the Athletics-Recreation Center on Saturday night with a 67-65 victory over Valparaiso.
McCall’s tip-in came after Alec Peters blocked Roe Loe’s shot at the basket with 0.9 seconds left. The ball fell into McCall’s hands, and the senior pushed the ball up with 0.1 seconds left. The officials went to the monitor and confirmed that the shot was taken before time expired.
The loss is Valparaiso’s second heart-breaking defeat at the ARC in the last three games. The Crusaders fell to Mercer in triple overtime 117-108 Nov. 29.
“This is twice now that we’ve felt this feeling, and it’s something that we definitely don’t want to feel again,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said.
McCall’s heroics overshadowed a gritty performance by the Crusaders as they battled back from a 12-point, second-half deficit to tie the game in the waning seconds. LaVonte Dority hit a leaner with 3.8 seconds remaining that tied the game at 65-65.
“I was just trying to make winning plays at the time,” Dority said. “Just trying to create something.”
The Billikens (8-2) entered the ARC as arguably the toughest team on Valparaiso’s schedule this season. They played like it from the outset, forcing the Crusaders into 13 first-half turnovers while taking a nine-point lead at halftime.
St. Louis stretched the lead to 12 points midway through the second half, but the Crusaders responded with an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to four points. The teams traded mini-scoring runs throughout the latter stages of the second half. Valparaiso didn’t tie the game until Dority’s shot fell in the final seconds.
“We didn’t come out and set a good tone, but we had a tremendous second half,” Drew said. “I’m proud of the way our guys competed.”
The Crusaders (6-5) outrebounded St. Louis 53-31 and had 20 offensive rebounds. Dority led Valparaiso with 21 points, while Bobby Capobianco added 14 points and eight rebounds. Dwayne Evans had 21 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Billikens.