Ben Harvey (10) gives a no-look pass to his teammate staying at the edge of the opponents’ court in a game against the Illinois State University Redbirds on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at the SIU Banterra Center. (Subash Kharel | @pics.leaks)
Ben Harvey (10) gives a no-look pass to his teammate staying at the edge of the opponents’ court in a game against the Illinois State University Redbirds on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at the SIU Banterra Center.

Subash Kharel | @pics.leaks

Salukis miss last-second shot, lose by one point to Valparaiso

February 21, 2021

The Salukis trailed by one point with 4.9 seconds remaining in the game. The Salukis had possession of the ball and an opportunity to score, and sophomore guard Steven Verplancken Jr. drove in for a contested shot, but it didn’t fall. The final seconds ran off the clock as both teams went for the rebound as Valparaiso held on for a 66-65 win. 

Head coach Bryan Mullins spoke about the last play and what was supposed to happen on it.

“We were trying to do a rip play, I got to go back and watch it and see how Valpo guarded it. We were trying to get him to rip the opposite way but the whole left side was bunched up… Either way he got to the block and I thought he had a pretty decent layup, there was traffic in there but we got to execute better,” Mullins said. 

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Senior forward Anthony D’Avanzo discussed how the team played in the game. 

“I thought we did all the right things, we played hard, we were there right at the end. We did what we had to do to be in the game to win it and it just didn’t go in our way at the end,” D’Avanzo said. 

The SIU Salukis men’s basketball team (10-11, 4-11 MVC) fall below .500 for the first time this season as they lost a close one against Valparaiso (8-16,5-10 MVC). 

The Salukis were led in the game by D’avanzo with 16 points on seven-for-nine shooting, sophomore guard Ben Harvey also added 13 while going three-for-five from downtown. 

Valparaiso got 15 points from both freshman forward Jacob Ognacevic and sophomore guard Donovan Clay.

D’Avanzo spoke on his performance today after the game and said he tried to bring energy to the team.

“I tried to bring as much energy as I could to the team and just hoped it was contagious, I thought we played hard. I thought it was pretty contagious but we just didn’t come out with the victory,” D’Avanzo said.

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The first half was back and forth with Valparaiso getting out to a 9-4 lead but the Salukis responded with a 6-0 run with threes from D’Avanzo and sophomore guard Trent Brown to take the lead at 10-9. 

In the late stages of the first half the game was tied at 32 and the Salukis were able to go on a 7-2 run to end the half and take a 39-34 lead into the break.

The second half was even most of the way throughout with neither the Salukis or Valpo able to create space from each other. SIU never led by more than seven and Valparaiso wasn’t able to really cut into the lead either.

With around eight minutes left the Salukis led 57-52 but Valpo was able to go on a 7-2 run and even the game up at 59 behind five quick points from Clay.

Freshman guard Dalton Banks got the Salukis the lead back at 61-59 but Valparasio responded and was able to take their first lead of the second half at 63-61. 

Valpo got the lead up to 66-63 with 4:03 remaining, the Salukis were only able to add two more points in that time despite holding Valpo scoreless for the final four minutes of the game.

A last-second miss by the Salukis was what Valparaiso needed to hold on for the 66-65 win. 

The Salukis shot 8-for-16 from the three in the first half but struggled to get threes to fall in the second half going just one-for-seven. 

Mullins spoke on the teams second half performance from three and said the team got some good looks.

“I’ve got to watch the film on that, I think there were maybe two shot clock threes that Lance [Jones, sophomore guard] took. But besides that Trent had some really great looks and Steven had a great look. We kind of threw the ball inside more in the second half, I think we drove the ball to the basket more in the second half,” Mullins said. 

D’Avanzo also commented on the second half performance from three and said he thought the team had chances to make threes.

“I thought we got a lot of good looks, I thought we were moving the ball pretty well the whole game. We made one more pass and got a lot of open looks, they just don’t go down sometimes.

The Salukis’ next game is tomorrow, Feb. 23 against Valparaiso at the Banterra Center. The game tips off at 6 p.m.

Sports reporter Ryan Scott can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @RyanscottDE. 

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