VALPARAISO | If Alec Peters had any nerves in his first game in a Valparaiso uniform, they were long gone by the second half.
The freshman scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half as the Crusaders rallied to beat Hillsdale 69-60 in their exhibition opener on Saturday night.
Peters won over the crowd in the opening moments, tipping a pass and diving onto the floor to try and save the ball on the opening possession of his college career.
“The first couple minutes I had some nerves and I had to work those out,” Peters said. “My coaches and the senior leaders on this team do a great job of helping all of us.”
Peters knocked down all three of his 3-pointers in the second half, including a shot he took directly in front of Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew and with a Hillsdale defender in his face.
“Alec is a player that shoots with great confidence,” Drew said. “It was right in front of me and I was about to say ‘bad shot,’ but then he got it. It’s his first game and I’m still learning what a bad shot is for him.”
The Crusaders struggled in the first half, shooting just 29 percent and committing eight turnovers. The offense woke up in the second half as Valparaiso went on an 11-0 run as Lavonte Dority and Clay Yeo had back-to-back steals that turned into layups on the other end of the floor.
“That was the breaking point of the game right there,” Dority said. “We talked about our defense in the locker room and we needed to make it happen.”
Dority finished with 15 points while Jordan Coleman added 12 points and five rebounds.
Vashil Fernandez had six blocks on Saturday night and Jubril Adekoya added eight rebounds as the Valparaiso lineup was considerably bigger than it has been in the past. The Crusaders finished with 11 blocks and 30 points in the paint.
“We love the big guys,” Dority said. “We’re a lot bigger and we’re going to use them and go through them for some inside-out offense.”
Hillsdale’s Kyle Cooper led all players with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Tim Dezelski added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Bobby Capobianco played just eight minutes while dealing with a lingering knee issue and Fernandez left the game late in the second half following a scary fall where he flipped over Cooper.