VALPARAISO | The road to the Horizon League title may still ultimately pass through Green Bay this season, but for one night Valparaiso reminded the rest of the league who the dominant team has been over the last two years.
Taking advantage of a shorthanded Phoenix squad, the Crusaders repeatedly pounded the ball inside, scoring 38 points in the paint as Valparaiso handed Green Bay its first conference loss of the season with a 75-60 victory on Wednesday night.
Lavonte Dority led the Crusaders (13-10, 5-3) with 26 points, while Jubril Adekoya added 12 points and five rebounds.
“I was just determined to win,” Dority said. “We were just running our offense, taking what the defense was giving us.”
Green Bay senior Alec Brown missed his first career game with a shoulder injury suffered in Sunday’s win over Detroit. The Crusaders never relented on attacking Green Bay’s defense, using effective ball movement to find soft spots in the defense. Lexus Williams dished out a career-high eight assists, many coming as Adekoya and Bobby Capobianco found space under the basket.
“There are no excuses for that performance,” Green Bay coach Brian Wardle said. “We’re a much better team (than that), with or without Alec Brown.”
Dority connected on his first six shots and was shooting 90 percent from the field midway through the second half as the senior continued his hot streak. Dority has scored 20-plus points in five of his last seven games.
“He’s a confident young man right now,” Wardle said. “We lacked discipline on him. He’s a strong guard that can play, and he’s playing at a high level right now.”
The night began with a jersey retirement ceremony honoring area natives Bryce Drew and Bruce Lindner. Both players wore the No. 24 and rank among the top scorers in school history. Longtime Valparaiso athletic trainer Rod Moore introduced Lindner, while former head coach Homer Drew introduced Bryce.
“It’s a great blessing,” Drew said. “I love this university. Coaching here, playing here, it’s an honor to have your jersey retired. Having a son that is due in May, he’ll come here and be able to look up and see that.”
Keifer Sykes led the Phoenix (17-4, 7-1) with 19 points and six assists. Brown entered the game having never missed a contest in 116 games of his four-year career. The two teams will meet again at the Resch Center in Green Bay on Feb. 20.