VALPARAISO | Bobby Capobianco shot Valparaiso toward the top of the Horizon League standings on Saturday night and the Crusaders still have a chance to go higher.
Capobianco’s 3-pointer with 59.6 seconds left proved to be the game-winner as Valparaiso survived a 68-66 thriller over Youngstown State at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
“I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” Capobianco said. “We run that play a lot in practice and (Lavonte) went through his options and got me the ball. The team trusts me to make that shot.”
The win locks up at least the No. 4 seed in next month’s conference tournament and the Crusaders can keep improving their position with wins at Wright State on Tuesday and in the regular-season finale at the ARC against Cleveland State next Saturday.
Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 22 points, his highest scoring output in more than two months. The freshman scored 14 points in the second half, knocking down four 3-pointers.
“We talked about what this win means to us and what our goals are,” Peters said. “We can’t win a regular-season conference title anymore, but we still have a shot at second and we needed this win in order to accomplish that goal.”
Lavonte Dority had 15 points and six assists for the Crusaders (17-12, 9-5), but his biggest contribution may have come on defense. All-Conference star Kendrick Perry hit just two field goals and finished with 12 points, well below his 21.0 average.
Perry missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with less than six seconds remaining. The Penguins (15-14, 6-8) had two chances to take the lead in the final minute, but turned the ball over immediately after Capobianco’s 3-pointer.
“I think I had a good look,” Perry said. “It was a play designed for me to come off a double screen and it’s a shot that I can make. The thing is, the play before that, we can’t have a turnover like that. We were in a position to win that game.”
After falling short in several close games earlier in the season, the Crusaders have now won two straight home games on the final possession.
“I thought our team showed a lot of will tonight,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “We could’ve folded a few times. The guys came back and regained energy for the final stretch.”