Sackey Hits Buzzer-Beater in Native Land, Propels Valpo to OT Victory Over Carleton

Sackey Hits Buzzer-Beater in Native Land, Propels Valpo to OT Victory Over Carleton

The calendar may say August, but the madness of March came early on Tuesday night in Ottawa, Quebec, Canada.  

As a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada / Thornlea) swished through the net, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team erupted in celebration after an entertaining 83-80 overtime victory over Carleton. The sophomore’s shot lifted Valpo to victory in his home country, beating a Carleton team that is coming off its 14th U Sports national championship. The game-ending play checked in at No. 9 on SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays” on the 9 p.m. CT edition on Tuesday night on ESPN.

Javon Freeman-Liberty (Chicago, Ill. / Whitney Young) led four Valpo players in double figures with 23 points, while Nick Robinson (Chicago, Ill. / Kenwood [Saint Joseph’s]) contributed an efficient 14 on 5-of-7 shooting (4-of-5 from 3) and Sackey and Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) accrued 13 points apiece. Robinson, Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton) and John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind. / Noblesville) shared the team lead in rebounds with eight each, while Freeman-Liberty handed out four assists.

Albeit in a summer international exhibition, Sackey’s shot was the latest in a long line of Valpo buzzer-beaters, continuing a special association between the program and the sport’s signature moment. The shot was set up by a frenetic sequence that saw Valpo steal a baseline inbounds pass and miss a foul-line jumper before again jarring the ball free for a second straight backcourt steal. This time the ball bounced perfectly into the hands of Sackey, who drained an off-balance triple from beyond the top of the key as the horn sounded.

Valpo jumped out to an 18-14 lead through 10 minutes before a strong second quarter propelled the team to a 37-28 halftime edge. Freeman-Liberty had already entered double figures by the break as he led all scorers with 11. The Valpo advantage was 61-57 going to the fourth, but the Ravens came back to tie it at 71 by the end of regulation.

Valpo made 14 3-pointers in the game and held a 54-48 edge on the glass. The victory came over a program that defeated Valpo 77-59 four years ago during the team’s 2015 trip north of the border. That 2015-2016 squad went on to finish 30-7 and reach the championship game of the NIT at Madison Square Garden.

The win over the Canadian powerhouse allowed Valpo to improve its Foreign Tour record to 3-0 entering the final game of the trip, which will occur on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT at the University of Quebec in Montreal.