Not even knowing if he’d be able to play Thursday night, Keith Carter delivered an inspired performance down the stretch to help the Valparaiso men’s basketball team pull out a key Horizon League victory over Youngstown State.
Carter didn’t practice all week because of a groin injury and looked relegated to the bench after an ineffective first half. The sophomore was inserted into the lineup late in the second half and scored all eight of his points after the break as the Crusaders pulled out a 74-71 win at the Beeghly Center.
The win gives the Crusaders (12-9) a three-game winning streak. They now sit alone in third place in the Horizon League with a 4-2 record.
“It was a great blessing that Keith was even able to play tonight,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “We weren’t sure if he could go, but we needed some energy. He did a tremendous job on defense and helped turn the game.”
With the game tied with 3:30 remaining, Carter stole the ball and scored to give the Crusaders a 64-62 lead. Following a Kam Belin 3-pointer, Carter knocked down a jumper to swing the game back in Valparaiso’s favor and then added two free throws to ice the game with two seconds remaining.
“Keith didn’t have a minute of practice this week, and we weren’t sure what kind of rhythm he would have,” Drew said.
Lavonte Dority delivered another stellar performance, scoring a game-high 27 points, his fourth 20-plus point output in the last five games. Dority scored five straight points that capped an 18-6 run to open the second half. The Crusaders trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half.
“Lavonte is our leader,” Drew said. “When he’s on the floor, playing hard, the whole team plays better. He gave us the momentum that we needed.”
Jubril Adekoya scored a career-high 13 points for the Crusaders, while Moussa Gueye added 11 points, including a 5-for-5 performance from the free-throw line. Valparaiso’s reserves outscored the Penguins 23-7 and have a 48-10 advantage in the last two contests.
“Our guys really came together, and you could see it in the timeouts,” Drew said. “That’s what I’m most proud of from the game. The guys were all on the same page and the loudest I’ve heard all year.”
Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Kendrick Perry had 15 points for the Penguins (12-9, 3-3), while Bobby Hain added 16 points and eight rebounds.