First-Place Valparaiso Outlasts Men's Basketball, 74-65

Senior center Darrin Williams
Senior center Darrin Williams

Feb. 14, 2012

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VALPARAISO, Ind. - Sophomore forward Hayden Humes, junior point guard Gary Talton and senior center Darrin Williams combined to score 43 points, and the Flames built a season-best 10-point halftime lead, but first-place Valparaiso exploded for 47 points in the second half, getting past the UIC men's basketball team, 74-65, in a late-season Horizon League battle at the Athletics-Recreation Center Tuesday night.

With the setback, UIC moves to 7-18 on the season, with a 3-12 Horizon League record. Valpo improved to 19-9 and 12-4, and opened a 1.5-game lead over second-place Cleveland State with only two games remaining on its regular season League slate.

"I was really proud of how my team showed up in the first half tonight," said head coach Howard Moore. "To come into an environment like this where Valpo has so much on the line; they are playing for a conference championship, really showed a lot out of our guys.

"But I thought they (Valparaiso) really showed a lot of poise in the second half. They made a lot of big shots, and got stops the way they needed to. They took control of the game and showed why they are at the top of our League."

Humes, making his homecoming to Valparaiso, Ind., scored a team-high-tying 15 points on a career-best field goals, including two three-pointers. Talton also chipped in 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while Williams scored 13 points and corralled a team-high seven rebounds.

Valparaiso was led by Richie Edwards, who led a threesome in double figures with 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk, the League's respective third and fourth-leading scorers, were limited to just a combined 20 points.

UIC played its best half of the season in the opening 20 minutes, out-scoring the Crusaders 37-27, and shooting 51.7 percent from the field with five three-pointers. It was a back-and-forth affair in the opening 12-plus minutes, with a combined five ties and lead changes.

After a steal by Talton and ensuing dunk by senior center Dorian Tyler, UIC claimed a 25-23 lead, jumpstarting a convincing 14-4 run to end the half. Humes and Talton combined for 10 points in the spurt, which was capped off by Humes drilling a three-pointer from the top of the key with only 28 seconds remaining. The Flames held the Crusaders to just one made field goal over the final 5:16 of the opening frame. UIC also held a 9-0 edge on second-chance points in the stanza.

Back-to-back threes by Ben Boggs and Broekhoff quickly pulled Valpo back within two possessions (40-34) early in the second half, but UIC still held a nine-point edge (43-34) at the first media timeout of the frame (15:52). The Crusaders' Jay Harris hit two threes in a 1:18 span that erased a five-point deficit, and eventually gave Valpo its first lead (48-47) of the second half.

UIC re-gained a two-point advantage, 53-51, with 8:21 remaining after Talton's second three. But Valpo responded with a 7-0 run over the ensuing 1:50, and claimed a 58-53 lead that it would not relinquish. The Flames pulled within four points on four occasions in the final 4:38, but could draw no closer. The Crusaders out-scored UIC 47-28 in the second half, shooting a blistering 72.2 percent (13-for-18) from the floor, and drilling eight threes.

UIC will step out of Horizon League play for one game Saturday (Feb. 18), when the Flames travel to Charleston, Ill., to take on Eastern Illinois as part of the SEARS BracketBusters series. Tip-off from Lantz Arena is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST, and will be preceded by a home game for the Panthers' women's basketball team.