ROCHESTER, Mich. | Travis Bader added another chapter to the thrilling rivalry between Oakland and Valparaiso by doing what he does best.
Bader, one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in NCAA history, drilled a 27-footer to break a 70-70 tie with 49.7 seconds left and help send the Grizzlies to a 75-70 win over the Crusaders in the first Horizon League game played at the O’rena.
Bader’s heroics came just moments after the senior guard drilled a 35-foot 3-pointer that capped off a 25-9 run to give Oakland its first lead of the second half. Bader finished with 20 points, while never leaving the floor despite taking a nasty fall in the first half.
“I put in a lot of work outside of practice on those kinds of shots,” Bader said. “When the time came, I didn’t abandon all that work that I did in the offseason.”
The Crusaders (9-8, 1-1) have dropped six of their last seven games to the Grizzlies (6-11, 1-1), with Saturday’s loss nearly qualifying as a blowout by recent standards. The four previous encounters between the two teams were decided by one possession.
“I thought for 32 minutes we played really good basketball,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “It was a good basketball game, and Oakland won the game by hitting some tough shots. We did not lose the game.”
Duke Mondy was perfect on all four of his 3-point attempts and led the Grizzlies with a game-high 24 points. Bader found his shooting touch in the second half and connected on five long-range shots.
“If it takes them going 9-of-14 (from the 3-point line) to beat us," Drew said, "then some nights you’re just not going to win."
Lavonte Dority led five Valparaiso players in double figures with 20 points. Jordan Coleman scored 12 points in the first half, but was held scoreless the rest of the game and was clearly affected when he was called for two fouls in the first 88 seconds of the second half. The Crusaders were whistled for seven fouls in the first four minutes out of the break and Drew noticed a change in his team as a result.
“Our aggressiveness changed,” Drew said. “The tone was set in those first four minutes and I think naturally that will take your aggressiveness away. We built it back up, but I think it took Jordan out of the game.”
The game marks the third straight year the Crusaders have blown at least a nine-point second half lead against the Grizzlies. Valparaiso led by nine last season with under five minutes remaining before Oakland closed the game on an 11-0 run.
“I told our team that we did well enough to win tonight, but we’re a young team and many of these guys are in their first situation of trying to close out a game,” Drew said. “It’s a great starting point for us to learn. If we’re making these same mistakes two weeks from now, then we didn’t learn anything. Sometimes you have to lose games like this to grow.”