VALPARAISO | On a day when Bryce Drew started three freshmen for the first time in his coaching career, it was a pair of seniors who led the way for Valparaiso.
LaVonte Dority and Jordan Coleman scored the first 14 points of a 36-6 run that gave complete control to the Crusaders in an 81-49 win over James Madison on Saturday afternoon.
The win was Valparaiso’s largest over a Division I opponent since an identical 81-49 win over Toledo on Dec. 12, 2009.
“I just wanted to play with a lot of energy,” Dority said. “We did that throughout the whole game. Our defense triggered our offense.”
Coleman led the Crusaders (3-3) with a game-high 16 points and four assists despite coming off the bench for the first time this season. Following slow starts in each of the last three games, Drew inserted freshmen Lexus Williams and Jubril Adekoya into the lineup in place of seniors Coleman and Bobby Capobianco.
“I’m used to coming off the bench, so it doesn’t matter to me,” Coleman said. “The starters did a good job of starting the game off and the second unit kept it going.”
Drew brushed off the decision to change the starting lineup and the players agreed that they don’t make a big deal out of who starts the game.
“It’s more important to look at rotations and lineups on the floor,” Drew said. “I’m bigger on who finishes games than who starts them. If you look at the NBA, the Sixth Man of the Year is generally one of the three or four best players on the team, but he comes off the bench. It’s all about rotations and getting the right unit out there.”
The Dukes (2-4) led 18-12 midway through the first half when Coleman knocked down a 3-pointer, stole the ball and dunked the ball on the other end to cut the deficit to one. Dority added back-to-back 3-pointers off steals from Williams and Moussa Gueye and the rout was on.
“We took a conscious effort on the defensive end,” Drew said. “I’m proud of the energy that we had throughout the game.”
Dority finished with 15 points and five assists while Alec Peters added 15 points in a game-high 28 minutes. Williams scored a career-high 12 points to go along with four steals in his first collegiate start.
The loss dropped James Madison to 0-3 against the Horizon League this season. The Dukes had previously lost against Milwaukee and Detroit.
“It’s a really good league,” James Madison coach Matt Brady said. “Valpo has a chance to represent and do what they’ve done in the past.”