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Lack of defense by UIC leads to Valpo basketball win 86-61

VALPARAISO, Ind. — Ridiculous shooting from Valparaiso?

Not-up-to-par defense from UIC?

Yes and yes.

The Crusaders downed UIC 86-61 on Tuesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, shooting 60.0 percent (30-of-50) from the field, including 15-of-26 from three-point range. Valparaiso has won eight straight games in the series against the Flames.

“They had a heck of a night shooting, they were well-rested and ready to go,” said UIC coach Howard Moore, whose team had entered the game averaging 60.0 points allowed. “And our defense was atrocious. It was a great effort by Valpo. They showed why they’re the top team in our league. They played with a phenomenal awareness and approach, and we just felt like we were in quicksand the whole game. It’s hard to catch up. We gave up some unbelievable open shots. Just a tough game for us.”

The Flames (14-10, 5-6 Horizon League) also shot 36.4 percent (20-of-55) from the field, including 2-of-14 from three-point range.

Perhaps Ryan Broekhoff’s three-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half — from the right wing, at least 30 feet from the basket, and about two steps from the sideline — summed up the game for the Crusaders (18-6, 8-2), who led 44-27 at halftime.

“What else can you do?” Moore said. “It’s deep. Our guys got caught off-guard, and it’s a heck of shot. That wasn’t the reason why we were down big; it was just the topping on the cake. Hey, it was his night.”

Broekhoff had 22 points, including 19 in the first half and six rebounds for Valparaiso, which had four players in double-figure scoring.

Josh Crittle and Daniel Barnes had 12 points each for UIC. The Flames led 7-2 in the early going, before the Crusaders reeled off 15 straight points, including eight from Broekhoff in less than a minute, to take a 17-7 lead with 13:27 left in the first half.

Valparaiso led by as many as 35 points with 6:21 left in the game.

“The last two games we really came out with a lot of energy, we really came out focused,” said Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew, whose team had beaten Milwaukee 71-40 on Friday. “And we shot the ball extremely well. Any time the ball goes in the basket, it covers up a lot of mistakes that you’re making.

“I’m really happy how we played tonight. Hopefully we can continue these efforts.”

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