Daily Egyptian

Salukis fall to Valparaiso Crusaders, 83-72

By Ryan Demer

On Saturday, the SIU basketball team fell to the Valparaiso Crusaders (10-7, 1-3 MVC) 83-72 at the ARC Arena in Valparaiso, Indiana.

The matchup marked the first meeting between the schools since 1980 and the first with Valpo as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Southern began the first half with back-to-back layups and claimed an early lead. The Salukis jumped ahead 18-9 with six points from junior center Kavion Pippen — who finished the game with 15 points and two assists.

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From then, the Crusaders scored seven consecutive points and avoided an insurmountable deficit.

SIU rallied and eventually built a 27-20 lead midway through the first half following a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Aaron Cook.

Valparaiso would not be denied, however, as it went on a massive 20-2 scoring run. That run changed the outlook of the game and Crusaders ended the half with a double-digit lead.

Pippen began the second half with an early bucket that sparked the SIU offense, but the Crusaders shot proficiently and never allowed Southern to break its double-digit deficit.

The Salukis mustered eight unanswered points in the closing minutes of the game that made the final score respectable.

Junior guard Armon Fletcher continued to flourish in his new role in the Salukis’ four-guard lineup and recorded his third career double-double. Fletcher posted career-highs with 32 points — tied for the most by any MVC player this season — and 14 rebounds. He also dished four assists.

Southern (10-7, 2-2 MVC) will be back in action on Tuesday night when the Salukis travel to Peoria, Illinois for an MVC battle against the Bradley Braves. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Sports writer Ryan Demer can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @RyanDemer_DE 

To stay up to date with all your SIU sports news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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