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All Time MVC Arch Madness Session 4

We are back at the Enterprise Center for day three of this imaginary all-time Arch Madness, and the stands are packed to the gills 2007-style for semifinal Saturday. Today we’ll have two games featuring four teams that averaged nearly 30 wins between them. They logged a combined total record of 119-25. All of these teams won outright regular season conference titles by multiple games, two won Arch Madness, and three made deep postseason runs. It should be a fun day, so lets get to it.

Game 7: #1 2016 Valparaiso Crusaders (12-6) vs. #4 2018 Loyola Ramblers (10-8) The first matchup features two teams who each won four postseason games after their conference tournaments ended. The Valpo Crusaders were upset in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament in 2016 but parlayed that into a four-win NIT run to the final at Madison Square Garden. Loyola turned their 2018 Arch Madness championship into a run to the Final Four. Both teams know about winning in the postseason. Both also beat tough teams to get here, as Valpo beat 2016 Evansville and Loyola beat 2010 Sweet 16 UNI in the quarterfinals. This promises to be a stellar semifinal.

These two teams really lit up the floor in a surprisingly fast paced game. Unrealistically fast paced if you ask me, but this is the land of make believe so I will roll with it. Both teams came in hopped up on adrenaline and ready to score some points, apparently. The teams traded baskets to start the game and neither was able to build a lead of any substance until Valpo went on a 4+ minute drought in which they were only able to make one basket. Loyola’s 11-2 run started with a long Clayton Kuster basket on an assist from Marques Townes and ended with a Townes three bomb. Valpo rallied with a 9-0 run of their own capped by an Alec Peters basket on an assist from Shane Hammink to give the Crusaders a 20-19 lead. After Aundre Jackson scored to give Loyola a 23-20 lead at 8:54, the Ramblers went on a four-minute scoring drought. That allowed Valpo to go on an 8-0 run with baskets from Peters, Keith Carter and Max Joseph to take a 28-23 lead. It was 29-29 with 2:12 to go, when both teams got hot for the final moments of the half. The teams traded baskets, with Clayton Custer hitting a long two at the buzzer to give Loyola a 38-36 lead at the break. Side note, this tournament must have set a record for halftime buzzer beaters.

Valpo did not make a basket for the first four minutes of the second half. The same cannot be said for Loyola. Ben Richardson started the half with an immediate three. Cameron Krutwig, Marques Townes, Clayton Custer, and Lucas Williamson all got in on the act as well and the Ramblers started the second half on a 12-1 run to increase their lead to 50-37. Then it was Valpo’s turn to go on a run, as Loyola would only score once over the next five plus minutes. For Valpo the scorers included Shane Hammink, Vashil Fernandez, the hilariously name E. Victor Nickerson, Tevonn Walker, Alec Peters, and Keith Carter. When the dust settled, there was 10:38 on the clock and Valpo held a 56-52 lead. They had gone on a 19-2 run. Donte Ingram finally stopped the bleeding with a three, but Alec Peters immediately answered with one of his own. The game slowed down for a bit at that point, but basket trading began again at the 8:41 mark. Clayton Custer’s three with 7:21 to go got his Ramblers within one, 63-62. Valpo went on a mini run with consecutive baskets from Shane Hammink, Peters and Carter. The Crusader lead was 69-62 with 5:12 to go, but Aundre Jackson and Cameron Krutwig pulled Loyola within three at 69-66. Valpo created some separation from there and scored on four straight possessions, with baskets by four different players. They held a 12-point, 78-66 lead at the 2:56 mark. As had happened all night, Loyola answered. They scored on five straight possessions without a Valpo point, with three of the baskets going to the big man Krutwig. The last Krutwig hoop came with 32 seconds to go and got Loyola within two at 78-76. Loyola was forced to foul and put Alec Peters at the line, and he made both shots. Now down four again, Loyola’s Custer missed a three and the Ramblers were forced to foul once again. Jubril Adekoya calmly hit both free throws to extend the Crusader lead to six, 82-76. Donte Ingram hit a desperation three for Loyola to cut the Valpo lead to 82-79. The Ramblers fouled Adekoya with one second left, and the Crusader missed the front end of the one-and-one. However there wasn’t enough time left to get a shot off to tie the game and Valpo won by a final of 82-79. Valpo moved on to tomorrow’s championship game.

Alec Peters was all-world for Valpo, scoring 28 points on 8-19 shooting and 3-5 from deep. Valpo didn’t shoot at a terribly high percentage (39.4%) but did make 19 of 24 free throws. Keith Carter also had a big game, scoring 15 points, and Vashil Fernandez grabbed ten boards. Five Ramblers scored in double figures, led by 17 points and nine rebounds from Cameron Krutwig. Loyola was just 8-13 from the line and committed 15 turnovers to Valpo’s 10, which may have been the difference. Valpo will play either 2008 Drake or 2007 Southern Illinois tomorrow in the title game.

FINAL: 2016 Valpo 82, 2018 Loyola 79

Game 8: #2 2008 Drake Bulldogs (11-7) vs. #6 2007 Southern Illinois Salukis (9-9) Our second semifinal features two of the best MVC teams from the first decade of the 21st century. Both were outright MVC regular season champions. Both spent most of the year ranked in the top 25. They also had the two best NCAA seeds of any teams in this competition (SIU was a 4, Drake was a 5). The only blemishes for either team were when Drake got upset in the NCAAs, and SIU lost in the title game of Arch Madness. Other than that, these were nearly flawless seasons for these two programs. SIU was on the tail end of a decade and a half of high-level play, while Drake had one great year in a sea of mediocre ones. All told these were two stellar teams, with stellar players, and this should be a stellar game. Drake features a quick moving, high powered offense, good shooting offense and SIU features the legendary “Floorburn U” defense. Let’s get to it.

SIU got off to a fast start, with scores from four Saluki players leading to a 8-2 Carbondale lead. Bucky Cox and Josh Young answered for the Bulldogs to make the score 8-7 at the under 16 timeout. The game was decidedly Drake paced. Bryan Mullins made it 10-7, and no one would score for nearly four minutes from that point on. The game was decidedly SIU paced. Bryan Mullins finally ended the drought with a three, but Josh Young answered for Drake with a 3 of his own. The teams continued to trade baskets over the next several minutes with SIU holding the lead, then Drake taking a 3-point lead, then SIU answering to take a 23-20 lead on a 5-0 run by Tony Young. Later, SIU took a 4-point lead on free throws by Matt Shaw with 7:20 to go. Just after the clock passed the 6-minute mark, the two teams combined to score on nine consecutive possessions and when the dust settled, a Josh Young and-one cut the SIU lead to 34-33 with 3:24 left in the half. After two Leonard Houston free throws gave Drake a brief 35-34 lead, Randal Falker immediately answered with a basket on an assist from Bryan Mullins, with the exact same thing happening again on the next possession to give SIU a 38-35 lead with two minutes to go. No one would score over the final two minutes of the half.

The second half was played at a frenetic pace, something that Drake is much more comfortable with than SIU. But the Salukis rose to the occasion. Klayton Korver single handedly kept Drake in it early in the second half as he scored the Bulldogs’ first nine points of the half. SIU got baskets by Matt Shaw, Jamaal Foster, and Jamaal Tatum over the same period. By the time someone not named Korver scored for Drake in the second half, 13:47 was on the clock and DU trailed 50-46. That led to a 7-0 run with no Korver involved, capped off by a Leonard Houston basket to give Drake a 51-50 lead with 12:21 to go. The lead was once again brief, however, as Randal Falker slammed it home and Bryan Mullins stripped Josh Young for an easy layup to give SIU the lead back, 54-51 with 12 minutes to go. SIU extended the lead to 59-51 after a Matt Shaw three-pointer with 10:25 left. Adam Emmenecker came alive after that, making an old-fashioned three-point play, and scoring on a fastbreak pass from Josh Young who stole the ball from Wesley Clemmons. That made the score 59-56 SIU. The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes as SIU would increase their lead to two possessions three times only to see Drake answer to keep it close. After a Tony Young jumper gave SIU at 65-61 lead with 7:16 to go, Drake answered with a three from John Michael Hall. After Falker tipped in a Shaw miss, Adam Emmenecker slammed home a pass from Brent Heemskerk. Drake finally took the lead on their next possession on a Leonard Houston three to put DU up 69-67 with 5:42 left. SIU then went on an unfortunately timed three-minute drought, but DU was barely able to extend the lead and by the time Shaw hit a 3 with 3:46 to go, SIU only trailed 71-70. The score stood 73-73 when Klayton Korver tipped in a Cox miss, and after an Emmenecker steal he fed the ball to Leonard Houston who scored to put Drake up 77-73. Tatum cut the lead to 77-75 with two free throws, but Houston came up big with another three on the ensuing possession to give Drake an 80-75 lead with 1:27 left. After both teams had empty possessions, Tatum kept SIU alive with a 3 pointer with 29 seconds to go. Jacob Baryenbruch hit two free throws to increase Drake’s lead to four, but Mullins quickly scored to make the score 82-80 Drake with 20 second left. Drake continued to be clutch at the line, as Adam Emmeneker made two free throws to increase the lead to four again. Matt Shaw made a three on the next possession to get SIU within 1, but there were only two second left. After Josh Young made two free throws to give Drake an 86-83 lead, there wasn’t enough time for SIU to get a shot off to tie, and the Bulldogs won by that score.

Matt Shaw shot 9-16 from the field and 5-9 from deep to score 28 points to go with his 8 rebounds for SIU. Three other Salukis scored in double figures (Tatum 16, Falker 13 and Mullins 11), while Falker got a double-double with his 11 rebounds. SIU lost despite shooting 49% overall and 9-19 from deep. Drake had a truly balanced attack, with six guys scoring in double-figures, Josh Young and Leonard Houston leading the way with 16 each. Drake shot 46% and just 8-22 from deep. The Bulldogs advance to tomorrow’s championship game where they will take on the 2016 Valpo Crusaders for all-time MVC supremacy. We will see you tomorrow!

FINAL: Drake 86, Southern Illinois 83

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