TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA---In what has been a very roller coaster ride of a season for the Indiana State Sycamores, Greg Lansing's squad entered the Hulman Center on Wednesday night with an opportunity, not only to end a two-game December losing streak and finally capture a win against a same-state opponent, but upset CollegeInsider.com's 3rd ranked mid-major, the Valparaiso Crusaders.
Sadly, the third time would not the charm.
Entering Wednesday's contest needing no introduction, Valparaiso big man Alec Peters took the sword from head coach Bryce Drew and scored half of his scoring average, eight points, in the first 2 minutes and 51 seconds to single-handedly produce an 8-2 lead.
Following the under 16 TV timeout, sophomore David Skara added another wound in "Sycamore Sam" with a trey of his own to push their lead to eight (11-3 VALPO). Fortunately for the home faithful, they would eventually have something to cheer about as "stud sophomore" Brenton Scott propelled a 10-0 spurt with five points of his own, ultimately inducing Valparaiso to take a 30-second timeout.
Although down 13-11 early is no sign of oncoming disaster, with Valparaiso currently in the hunt for an at-large bid, the Crusaders could not afford Indiana State to hang around as Ball State did on November 28. Ironically, as if Drew reminded his group of the terrible Ball State debacle, Valparaiso went on an 11-0 run that was the main cause of their 10-point advantage going into the intermission (31-21 VALPO).
To start the second twenty minutes on Nellie and John Wooden Court, Indiana State supplied the first big blow with back-to-back triples off the hands of Niels Bunchoten and Matt Van Scyoc to pull the Trees within three (34-31 VALPO). But the lead dwindling did not stop there!
Following a pair of made free throws by the Crusaders' David Skara and a Scott deuce for the Sycamores, Indiana State's Everett Clemons made the hustle play of the game by chasing down a missed three pointer and facilitating it to a wide-open Emondre Rickman, who slammed it with authority. Can you say momentum swing?
Indeed! On the ensuing Indiana State possession, Van Scyoc struck again from beyond the arc to give his team their first lead since 12:52 in the first half! Nevertheless, Valparaiso fought back and was able to retake a good size 55-49 advantage after trading baskets for a solid four minutes.
Later, Valpo's Skara flashed his Croatian swag with three of his twelve points to make the win at the end of the tunnel become far away for the Sycamores (59-51 VALPO).
While Indiana State was able to pull within three on a Scott three pointer with 2:42 to go, they could get no further as the Crusaders made 8 out of 10 free throw attempts down the stretch to march to a 69-63 victory.
Hot N' Cold
Coming out of the gate quicker than a race horse in the Kentucky Derby, "jazzy junior" Alec Peters concluded the first twenty with eleven points. After another half of action, he had fifteen, one point less than his scoring average. What happened? Indiana State's defense happened! The Sycamores played tremendous help defense on the 2014-2015 All-Horizon League first teamer and ended up shutting him down completely. No really, they held him to 0-7 shooting and four second-half points (all from charity stripe)! Post-game Indiana State's Matt Van Scyoc touched on the second-half adjustments made to stop Peters and commented that, "In the second half, we kinda made it a point to just make sure to know where he is. There is no excuse to lose him, a good player, like that because he will put the ball in the hole." Peters and Valparaiso will be back in action on Friday at Chicago State.
Van Scyoc Stuffing the Stockings From Downtown
Despite only eclipsing double-figures in two of his seven games entering this evening, The Citadel transfer Matt Van Scyoc finally caught fire with a team-high twenty points. The 6'6" junior really started piling on the points following the intermission as he netted 17 of his 20 during the half. When asked how it felt to hit consistently and contribute a game-high point total, Van Scyoc stayed said, "It was nice to see my shots fall, that haven't fallen the first six, seven games. It was really frustrating. But you gotta shoot more, gotta get in the gym more, and there is no excuses for missing shots. So that felt good, but at the same time losing takes all that away."
Big Shot Scott
Following his best performance of the season against one of the state's best (18 points on 6 of 13 shooting at Butler), Brenton Scott composed another very good performance against a "future NCAA Tournament team." And most importantly, he was clutch. Okay, the Sycamores did not come away with the win but without the Fort Wayne, Indiana, native's timely twine ticklers (made jumper to steal a 13-11 lead and triple to knot the game at 45 for instances), Indiana State would not have given their opponent a significant scare. The Sycamores will try to re-discover their winning ways as well as collect their first victory of December on the road against Western Kentucky this Sunday
He Said It (Part I)
"It is very frustrating, and everything in it came here at the end, and I am sure that is frustrating for them. They are missing free throws, and yeah, it's not like we are (not) working on it. It's not like anyone that steps up there wants to miss. It's not like we are trying to turn it over at a crucial time. We got to be a little mentally stronger and again, when things are going good that kind of stuff doesn't happen and we are feeling a little bit better. But we (have) been struggling and everyone is a little on edge and trying to force stuff on the offensive end."
---Greg Lansing on his team's miscues (missed layups and free throws in addition to turnovers) in the final five minutes of the second half.