Sophomore Alec Peters turned in an MVP performance to lead the Valparaiso Crusaders to the championship of the Challenge in Music City over the weekend.
Valparaiso (7-1) won all three games in the event and secured the championship with a convincing 70-55 victory over Portland.
The Crusaders won their three games by an average margin of 23.3 points.
Peters averaged 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game during the weekend. He was named Most Valuable Player following the championship game win over Portland.
Valparaiso 66 Drake 46
Valparaiso came out firing in the second half and rolled to an easy 66-46 win over Drake (1-4)
Darien Walker scored 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting to lead Valpo (5-1). Keith Carter chipped in 15 points. Alec Peters added 10 points and pulled down 6 rebounds.
The Crusaders led 29-21 at the half but opened the second half with a 12-2 run and never looked back.
Jordan Daniels came off the bench to lead Drake with 18 points. Gary Reynolds, Jr. finished with 8 points.
Portland 64 Murray State 61
Murray State suffered a tough 64-61 defeat to the Portland Pilots Friday on day one of the Challenge In Music City.
Kevin Bailey scored a game-high 23 points for Portland. Thomas van der Mars put in a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Bobby Sharp came off the bench to tally 13 points.
Cameron Payne had 18 points to lead Murray State. T.J. Sapp added 13 and Jeffery Moss chipped in 11. Jarvis Williams had 7 rebounds against Portland's tall front line.
Portland 71 Drake 59
Portland jumped out to a 24-11 lead and never looked back as they cruised to a 71-59 win over Drake.
Senior big man Thomas van der Mars led the Pilots with 14 points and 6 rebounds. Alec Wintering finished with 9 points and 8 assists. Kevin Bailey and Volodymyr Gerun chipped in 8 points each.
Drake's Gary Ricks, Jr. scored a game-high 23 points. He was 9-for-12 from the field, including 5-for-6 from long range. Jordan Daniels scored 12 points off the Bulldogs' bench.
Valparaiso 93 Murray State 58
Game recap by MSU:
The Murray State Racers dropped a 93-58 defeat at the Challenge In Music City Saturday to the Valparaiso Crusaders in Nashville, Tennessee at Municipal Auditorium.
MSU (2-4) finishes their stay at the CIMC Sunday when they face the Drake Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m. The first game of the final day tips at 1 p.m. with the Crusaders (6-1) against Portland.
Jeffery Moss led MSU with 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range, while Cameron Payne added 11 points and three assists. Jonathan Fairell led MSU on the boards with seven rebounds.
In the first half, MSU trailed 26-20 at the 7:30 mark when they responded with a run of their own to take a 30-28 lead at 5:02. MSU's 10-2 run was keyed by a Wayne Langston hook shot and a pair of baskets from Moss. MSU took their only lead of the game with 5:02 left on a Moss floater. However, the Crusaders ended the half on a 21-11 run and a 43-37 lead,
Things got worse for the Racers when Valparaiso started the second half with a 12-3 run.
MSU cut the Valpo lead to 15 on a bucket by Jarvis Williams at the 13:38 mark, but never got any closer.
The Racers stayed with the hot-shooting Valpo in the first half going 13-of-28 for 46 percent. But in the second half the Racers cooled to 36 percent on 20-of-55 shots, while Valpo stayed hot at 70 percent on 17-of-24 shots.
The Racers and Crusaders have met in three straight seasons. Valparaiso won at MSU in 2012 and on their home court in 2013 before today's neutral court game.
Valparaiso 70 Portland 55
Coach Bryce Drew's Crusaders wrapped up the event championship with an impressive 70-55 win over Portland.
Valpo was in control from the start and the game was never in doubt.
Alec Peters paced the Crusaders with 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Darien Walker added 13 points. Vashil Fernandez pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
D'Marques Tyson came off the Portland bench to lead all scorers with 25 points. He was 6-for-8 from the three-point line.
Murray State 68 Drake 59
Game recap by MSU:
The Murray State Racers came away with 68-59 win over the Drake Bulldogs in the final game of the Challenge In Music City in Nashville, Tennessee at Municipal Auditorium.
The win pushed the Racers to 3-4 and allowed them to win one of the three they played this weekend. MSU dropped losses to Portland and Valparaiso Friday and Saturday. MSU finished in third place in the four team event.
Jarvis Williams led the Racers with 20 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and the Racers got 14 points off the bench from Justin Seymour.
The first half was a tight race with four ties and a large lead of only four points. The Racers scored their first seven points from five Drake turnovers and took a 19-18 lead when Seymour scored at the 8:45 mark, but MSU trailed the rest of the half although by only a point at the break 36-35.
The last tie of the game came when the score was 46-46 with 10:34 remaining.
MSU finally got some momentum with a 10-0 run with a pair of 3-point baskets from T.J. Sapp and buckets from Williams and Seymour for a 56-48 lead with 5:43 left.
The Racers put the game away with a pair of free throws each from Williams and Jonathan Fairell and one amazing play. With one second left on the shot clock, Jeffery Moss threw a long alley-oop pass to Williams who scored for a 62-53 MSU lead with 2:11 left.
1. Valparaiso (3-0)
2. Portland (2-1)
3. Murray State (1-2)
4. Drake (0-3)
All Tournament Team:
- Alec Peters (Valparaiso) MVP
- Darien Walker (Valparaiso)
- Volodymyr Gerun (Portland)
- Cameron Payne (Murray State)
- Gary Ricks, Jr. (Drake)
- Valpo lists Peters as a 6-foot-9 forward: my eyes tell me that he is maybe 6-foot-6. His game is still incredible, but he isn't 6-foot-9.
- That being said, Peters is really, really good: I'll have more on Peters soon. He is a very good all-around player who is averaging 19.3 points per game this season.
- Valparaiso is coached by Bryce Drew: yes, that Bryce Drew. Remember when he nailed the buzzer-beater in the 1998 NCAA tournament to give Valpo a stunning upset over Ole Miss?
- Valparaiso travels to Eastern Kentucky University Wednesday night: if the Crusaders continue to play like they played in Nashville, it will be a difficult game for the Colonels to win.
- NBA scouts were at the event: I noticed Larry Harris (Golden State Warriors) and Trent Redden (Cleveland Cavaliers) sitting courtside. I'm told the scouts were primarily checking out Murray State point guard Cameron Payne.
- Murray State isn't playing their best basketball at the moment: The Racers are struggling defensively and are having trouble knocking down shots. They got a much needed win over Drake on Sunday and I'm positive that Coach Prohm will have them playing much better come conference time.
- There was some interesting music during the event: it wasn't bad, but it was interesting. At one point, the music went from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to Hell's Bell's (AC/DC) to Yeah! (Lil Jon). Now that's a playlist...
- The parking garage that is near Municipal Auditorium is really a bunch of crap: the first night of the tournament, I paid $5 to park until midnight. Days 2 and 3, I was forced to pay $15 each day. Those days forced me to pay $15 for 12 hours of parking. That would be a great deal if I needed to park for 12 hours. Unfortunately, I only need to park for 4 1/2 to 5 hours. It would have been nice to pay for what I needed.
- Attendance was very low: as expected with many early-season tournaments, attendance was lacking. Obviously Portland and Drake were never going to have many fans due to distance. Valpo had a decent cheering section. As always, Murray State travels pretty well to Nashville. Tickets to the event were $22 per day (2 games). In my opinion, that is a little high for mid-major basketball on a neutral court. If I were a fan, I'd go $10-15 per day but definitely not over $20. Just think...a family of 4 is a smooth $88 per day. That's a little steep.
- Diet Dr. Pepper was $4 per 20 oz. bottle at Municipal Auditorium: I seriously paid $4 for a 20 oz. bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper the first day of the event. I saw one guy drop $26 for a couple of drinks, a couple of hot dogs, some chips and a candy bar. Add that $26 to your $15 in parking and $88 in tickets and I think you see how the attendance formula works out.
- I broke the arena rules...twice: after dropping $4 for a soda, I quoted the raven..."nevermore." Now that the event is over, I'll go ahead and say that I may or may not have smuggled 6 drinks and 4 snacks into the arena during the last 2 days of the event. Allegedly.
- All-in-all, it was a very solid mid-major event: I had a great time in Nashville and watching 3 days of solid mid-major basketball. I came away impressed with Valpo and the job that Coach Drew is doing there. I looking forward to following their progress this season. As I mentioned, Murray State isn't playing great yet, but they have all the pieces needed to win the OVC once again.
- Special shout out to Murray State Assistant AD David Winder: Dave did an incredible job with the event and couldn't have been any nicer to media members and scouts.
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