Tonight's Horizon League conference match-up had two major story lines coming into the game. One being how would Valparaiso (15-3,2-1) respond to losing their second point guard so early into the conference season. The second involved the homecoming of UIC's (5-13,1-2) leading scorer Jay Harris (14.2 ppg) who transferred from Valpo after two seasons.
The Crusaders answered all the concerns and worries about the point guard position early and throughout the game with play from E. Victor Nickerson who got the start at the position and finished with 7 points. Also playing the guard spot for Valpo was Max Joesph who ended the game with 9 points.
Valparaiso had the idea of attacking the basket throughout the game, outscoring the Flames 50-14 inside the paint. The 6 foot 10 inch big man, Vashil Fernandez shot perfect from the field (6-6) ending the game with 15 points and tallying 8 rebounds.
Valpo head coach Bryce Drew after the game explained how heading into tonight's game, they really wanted to get the ball down in the post and take advantage of their size.
As for UIC and the return of Jay Harris to Valpariso, that story was spoiled by the great effort from the Crusaders. Jay finished the game with only 8 points. Harris afterwards mentioned how much he appreciated the support he got from the Valparaiso environment.
Coach Drew discussed how it was coaching against his former player, "Tough, tougher than I expected."
Valpo's ability to address the concern about point guard play and stopping Harris led the Crusaders to a 29 point win (85-56). The Crusaders came out of the game shooting an astounding 60.4 percent compared to UIC's 32.8 percent.
This Saturday Valpo will host Cleveland State and UIC will host Detroit next Tuesday.