After winning the Horizon League regular-season championship for the second straight year, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team hosted the Horizon League Tournament and captured its first HL Tournament title to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
It looked as if the Crusaders’ season would come to an end in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals game against Green Bay, when they trailed by two points in the waning seconds. But senior Ryan Broekhoff drained a dramatic buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift Valpo to a championship game tilt with Wright State.
Valpo held off the Raiders 62-54 in the title game behind a career-high 22 points from Erik Buggs, setting a program record with 26 wins and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in team history.
The 14th-seeded Crusaders faced the third-seeded Michigan State on March 21 at Auburn Hills. Although Valpo stayed close for the first nine minutes, the Spartans pulled ahead late in the first half and carried that lead into the second half. The Crusaders rallied late before falling 65-54.
The loss meant the end of Valpo basketball careers for six seniors: Ben Boggs, Will Bogan, Kevin Van Wijk, Matt Kenney, Broekhoff, and Buggs.
Van Wijk became one of only 32 players to score more than 1,000 points at Valpo, with 1,030 points and 426 rebounds. Kenney completed his career as one of only two players ever at Valpo to have more than 400 rebounds and 300 assists, finishing with 450 rebounds and 330 assists over the course of 130 games to go along with 876 points. Broekhoff finished sixth in Crusader history for total points (1,591) and tied for second in rebounds (841). Buggs finished with the most career games played at 138 and tied for fourth in assists all time with 425.
Learn more about the men’s basketball team and Valpo athletics at valpoathletics.com.