Valparaiso led by one, 27-26, with 7:02 to play in the first half Tuesday evening in Raleigh, N.C., but North Carolina State ended the half on a 14-2 run and pulled away for a 78-64 victory over the Crusaders.
The Wolfpack used a 10-4 spurt to go up 26-20 with 8:44 left in the first half, but the Crusaders bounced back, using a Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) three and back-to-back buckets from Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) to take the brief one-point lead. But N.C. State used nine points from Courtney Fells to take the 12 point halftime lead.
The Wolfpack started the second half just as they ended the first, starting with 10 straight points, capped by a Gavin Grant 3-pointer to go up, 51-29. N.C. State extended its lead to as many as 29 with 6:44 to play, but the Crusaders fought back with five 3-pointers, including three from Haanpaa, to cut the final margin to 14.
Haanpaa and Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) tied for team-high honors with 14 points apiece, while Igbavboa added 10 points. Igbavboa also led the Crusaders with eight rebounds, the first time this year he has grabbed less than ten boards.
Grant led all players with 25 points, hitting 9-of-19 shots from the field, and 12 rebounds for the Wolfpack. Brandon Costner scored 17 points, while Fells chipped in 13 of his own.
N.C. State hit 28-of-59 (47.5%) from the field to Valpo's 22-of-60 (36.7%) shooting performance. The Crusaders did hit 9-of-21 3-point attempts to just 5-of-22 from behind the arc for the Wolfpack. N.C. State (3-0) held a 42-36 advantage on the boards and turned the ball over just 10 times, to 13 turnovers for the Crusaders.
Valparaiso (3-1) returns home for a two-game homestand beginning next Monday, the 27th, as the Crusaders host #13 Marquette. The Golden Eagles are the first ranked team to appear at the ARC in nine seasons. Opening tip is set for 7:05 p.m., and all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.