Freeman-Liberty leads late charge, Valpo tops Illinois State

NORMAL. Ill. (AP) — Javon Freeman-Liberty scored 19 of his 25 points after halftime and Valparaiso completed a massive comeback to trip up Illinois State 65-62 Saturday night, taking the lead for the first time with 14.1 seconds on the clock.

Valpo (14-13, 7-7 Missouri Valley Conference) trailed by 17 points three times in the second half before Freeman-Liberty took charge, making his last eight field goals and adding four steals in the second period. He finished with 10-for-14 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and five steals.

The Crusaders defense was clutch in the last 20 seconds with two steals and a game-ending blocked shot.

Nursing a 62-61 lead with under a minute left, the Redbirds (8-18, 3-11) had drained the shot clock but before Antonio Reeves could launch a 3, Freeman-Liberty simply took the ball and raced for the go-ahead fast-break layup. ISU’s Jaycee Hillsman then had the ball tapped away by Donovan Clay, Freeman-Liberty plucked it off the court and sprinted for a dunk with a second left. Clay then swatted DJ Horne’s corner 3 into the stands as time expired.

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Horne scored 14 and Zach Copeland 17 for Illinois State.

Valparaiso visits Drake on Wednesday. The Redbirds are at Loyola-Chicago on Wednesday.

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