Turnover troubles: SIU falls to Valparaiso, 55-52

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

After 12 turnovers in the second half, Southern could not come back from their struggles, resulting in a 55-52 loss against Valparaiso.

The Salukis were looking to build some momentum off their win on Saturday against Indiana State. Valparaiso was able to beat SIU in Carbondale on January 12th, 65-61.

Going into the game, the Crusaders had cooled off since that January win losing seven of their last eight games.

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Valpo (14-14, 7-8 MVC) opened up a 5-2 lead early in the game with a layup by junior center Jaume Sorolla and a three-pointer by junior guard Ryan Fazekas.

Sorolla then went to the free throw line and made both of his free throws, but senior center Kavion Pippen scored his fourth point of the game to keep the point spread at three.

The Salukis (14-14, 7-8 MVC) used a 7-0 run, with a three-pointer by junior guard Aaron Cook, a layup by Pippen and a layup by senior guard Armon Fletcher – one where he was fouled to push out a 10-7 Southern lead after the made free throw by Fletcher.

Pippen started to make his presence known early on, pacing the team with two blocks and six points in five minutes to push out a five point lead. He finished with seven points and five blocks.

The Crusaders then went on a 4-0 run with a layup by junior center Derek Smitts and two free throws helped them pull within one at the 11:45 mark in the first half.

Valparaiso and SIU battled back and forth trading baskets with senior center Thik Bol and Fletcher both getting the ball to fall into the basket as the Salukis led by one.

Two free throws by Fletcher pushed the Dawgs lead out to three but the Crusaders answered with four straight points to retake the lead at 19-18 with 6:25 left in the first half.

Pippen added another layup and Fletcher did too, regaining a three point lead, but a three-pointer by Valparaiso tied the game at 22.

A foul by freshman guard Javon Freeman of the Crusaders led to an inbounds play that ended with a jumper by Fletcher for SIU to pull ahead by two with 1:47 left in the first half.

The Southern defense forced a turnover which turned into two points by senior guard Marcus Bartley, as the last points of the half as the Salukis lead 28-24.

Three turnovers by SIU turned into five points for the Crusaders to open the second half for them to regain a one point lead.

Valpo continued onto a 9-0 run with two points by Freeman and two by Sorolla to push their lead out to 33-28 in the second half.

Senior guard Sean Lloyd Jr. made a three-pointer to cut into the Crusader lead but eight turnovers by Southern seven minutes into the second half allowed for the lead to be maintained at 37-33.

One free throw by Lloyd and a three-pointer by Bartley tied the game back up for Southern as they started to settle in at the 11:12 mark of the second half.

A flagrant foul by Lloyd put Valpo at the line,and Smits added two more free throws to push the Crusader lead back out to three.

Southern then went on a 5-0 run to retake the lead with a three-pointer by Bartley and a steal by Bartley that led to a dunk by Fletcher.

Another turnover by the Salukis allowed for Freeman to attack the basket for an 8-0 run to pull out Valpo’s biggest lead of the night at six with 6;52 left in the game.

Free throws helped to keep the lead for the Crusaders but two second chance baskets by both Fletcher and Cook helped to pull the game back within three at 49-46.

Fletcher finished with the team lead in points with 18 points to go along with three steals.

Senior guard Deion Lavender put up four straight points for Valparaiso and grabbed a defensive rebound with which led to another point for him for them to extend their lead to 55-46 with 1:45 left in the game.

The Salukis began to cut into the lead with three made free throws, two of which by Cook to cut the lead down to six with 1:42 left.

Cook missed two straight free throws but grabbed his own rebound and made both of them the second time around to make it 55-52 with 53 seconds remaining.

Junior guard Eric McGill missed a three-pointer as well as Cook, and Valpo went to the line and missed the free throw.

Southern had a chance to send it to overtime with two seconds left but they turned it over for the Crusaders to clinch the game 55-52.

Southern will be back in action on Sunday against Loyola at SIU Arena with tip off set for 3 p.m.

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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