VALPARAISO | The Valparaiso men’s basketball team is officially limping into the Horizon League tournament.
The Crusaders committed 18 turnovers on Saturday afternoon and suffered a second straight double-digit loss, falling 63-52 to Cleveland State in the regular-season finale.
With Wright State’s 68-61 win over UIC earlier in the day, the outcome of Saturday’s game at the Athletics-Recreation Center was relatively meaningless. The Crusaders were locked into the No. 4 seed and a Tuesday night home meeting with No. 9 UIC shortly after the Cleveland State game began.
“We have to use this feeling moving forward,” Valparaiso senior Bobby Capobianco said. “This game is over. This regular season is over. Our focus now needs to solely be on UIC. Everyone is looking forward to the next two days of practice and getting ready for that game.”
While Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew was monitoring the outcome of the Wright State/UIC game, the players were left in the dark and instead focused just on the regular-season finale. Lavonte Dority led the Crusaders (17-14, 9-7) with 13 points while Alec Peters added nine points.
“The outcome today wasn’t what we intended for,” Peters said. “It’s something that we’re going to have to learn from.”
After turning the ball over 20 times in Tuesday’s 67-58 loss to Wright State, the Crusaders had 18 more miscues on Saturday afternoon. Lexus Williams had six turnovers while five other players added two turnovers apiece.
“There’s not a lot that we can do in 48 hours (to fix the turnovers),” Drew said. “The last couple games before these two we were taking care of the ball.”
Valparaiso honored its seniors after the game as Capobianco, Dority, Jordan Coleman and Moussa Gueye each addressed the crowd. Dority ended his speech by promising more victories before the season is through.
The Crusaders will open the Horizon League tournament against UIC on Tuesday night, a team that Valparaiso has beaten twice already this season. If they are victorious, the Crusaders will play the winner of No. 5 Milwaukee and No. 8 Youngstown State on Friday night in Green Bay for the right to play the Phoenix on Saturday night. Valparaiso has never reached the Horizon League championship after having to play in the first round.
Trey Lewis led the Vikings (21-10, 12-4) with 11 points, four assists and four rebounds while Ludovic Ndaye added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“They were quicker to the ball today,” Drew said. “They just beat us.”