CHICAGO | Lavonte Dority wasn’t going to be denied on Wednesday night. Not on a night when the Chicago native returned to his city for the first time in a Valparaiso basketball uniform.
The South Florida transfer knocked down two key 3-pointers and scored 13 second half points as the Crusaders rallied from a nine point deficit to beat UIC 75-70 at the UIC Pavilion.
Dority finished with 18 points and Ryan Broekhoff notched his second straight double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
“I saw a Chicago kid that came home and played with a purpose,” UIC coach Howard Moore said of Dority. “He was very aggressive and he inserted his physicality right away.”
Dority had three 3-pointers in the second half and helped boost Valparaiso’s long distance shooting after the Crusaders (12-5, 2-1) were just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first half.
“I was just playing to win,” Dority said. “Just taking good shots and making it through the stretch. I was able to step up and hit some shots.”
Kevin Van Wijk was a dominant force in the first half, scoring 14 of his 16 points before the break. The senior center was 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the first half and 3-of-4 from the field, but Van Wijk managed just one shot in the second half.
Moore changed his approach on Van Wijk in the second half and players such as Dority and Broekhoff were able to take advantage of less defensive pressure.
“Kevin was really kind of dominating and they made their changes,” Broekhoff said. “It did open things up for everyone. We have guys that can shoot and can penetrate. If one of us is taken out, it does open up gaps that other guys can take advantage of.”
The teams traded big scoring runs in the opening minutes of the second half before the contest started to resemble much of what the last six games between Valparaiso and UIC have looked like. The teams were within two possessions for the final 15 minutes. The Crusaders have won seven straight games against the Flames, with six of those victories coming by single digits.
Gary Talton led the Flames (10-6, 1-2) with 25 points and four assists while Valparaiso product Hayden Humes had 12 points before fouling out in 29 minutes. UIC senior guard Daniel Barnes had eight steals.