VALPARAISO | A short memory is a big asset for a Division I basketball player.
Valparaiso led Detroit by 15 points with nine minutes remaining last Saturday in a key Horizon League game at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders ended up losing by 10.
One week later, Valpo led Eastern Kentucky by 15 with nine minutes remaining. This time, the Crusaders cruised to an 82-60 victory over the Colonels in the final ESPN BracketBusters event.
"It never got brought up or crossed my mind," Valpo senior Ryan Broekhoff said of last week's collapse. "We have confidence in whoever is on the floor, and that was in the past.
"This was a completely different game and a different scenario."
Broekhoff played just 20 minutes and tied Will Bogan for a team-high 13 points as five Crusaders reached double figures. LaVonte Dority had 12 points, Kevin Van Wijk 11, and Ben Boggs 10 to go along with a team-high seven rebounds.
Most importantly, the Crusaders (22-7) shot a season-best 68.2 percent, outrebounded the Colonels 36-33 and held them to 32.8 percent shooting.
"We knew they were very explosive offensively," Valpo coach Bryce Drew said. "Our defense did a tremendous job contesting their shooters. Our goal was to hopefully not allow them a high percentage, and our guys had an excellent effort on defense."
Eastern Kentucky (22-7), currently second in the Ohio Valley Conference, had won six in a row entering the game and scored at least 80 in five of the last six.
Sophomore guard Corey Walden finished with 20 points before being helped off the court with an apparent knee injury with 9:24 remaining. Mike DiNunno added 19 and Eric Stutz 10.
Valpo jumped out to an early 11-2 lead before the Colonels came back to tie it at 13-13 on a Walden 3-pointer. The Crusaders then went up 24-17 with 8:02 remaining on a Matt Kenney layup before committing four consecutive turnovers.
That allowed the Colonels to make a run. They took their only lead of the game at 25-24 with 5:33 remaining in the half when DiNunno hit a pair of free throws after Kenney was whistled for a technical foul apparently after throwing the ball off an Eastern Kentucky player.
"I think Matt gave them the ball back a little bit too much," Drew said. "One thing we love about Matt is he's a fierce competitor. We love his competitiveness and aggressiveness."
The play seemed to spark the Crusaders, who finished on a 15-4 run to lead 39-29 at the break.
The Crusaders' Rating Percentage Index (RPI) improved from 79 to 71 with the victory, a key statistic if they advance to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Horizon League Tournament in two weeks.
So Valpo got the win, all 10 players scored, no one got hurt and the Crusaders finish the BracketBusters series with a 5-4 record including 5-0 at the ARC.