Valparaiso led by 13 points in the first half, but UMKC cut the deficit to two at the half and took the lead early in the second half before eventually downing the Crusaders, 84-76, in the 2007 Mid-Continent Conference Tournament quarterfinals. The loss ends Valpo's season at 16-15.
The early stages of the game were tight before Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) threw down back-to-back dunks at the 13:42 mark to give Valpo a 14-9 lead. The Crusaders continued to extend their lead through the middle portion of the opening stanza, with Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) hitting two straight 3-pointers to give Valpo a 13-point lead with 6:06 to play in the half.
UMKC answered before the half, however, getting three triples from Dane Brumagin in a 16-2 run to tie the game in the late stages of the half. But Jarryd Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) converted on a pair of free throw attempts in the waning seconds to give Valpo a 38-36 halftime edge.
The teams traded baskets at the beginning of the second half until Quinton Day hit a jumper followed by a 3-pointer to help give UMKC a five-point edge with 16:42 to play. The Kangaroos held the lead for the next three minutes before Valpo made another run, receiving triples from Haanpaa and Loyd to take a 56-52 lead with 12:51 left.
UMKC answered with back-to-back buckets from Ayuba to tie the game, and Brumagin hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to put the Kangaroos on top, 59-57. Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) answered immediately with a triple of his own to give Valpo the edge, but Ayuba powered inside to give UMKC to lead for good at 61-60 with 8:56 to play.
UMKC extended its lead to eight points with under a minute left, but the Crusaders had one final spurt in them. Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) cut the lead to five with a triple, and after Ayuba split a pair of free throws, McPherson hit another 3-pointer to make it a three-point ballgame. But UMKC hit its last six free throws, and Valpo would not hit another field goal the rest of the way.
Haanpaa paced four Crusaders in double figures with 19 points, hitting five of his nine 3-point attempts. Igbavboa added 18 to go along with 10 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the season, while Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) scored 12 points and McPherson 11.
Ayuba led all scorers with 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Brumagin and Day each scored 17 for the victors, who hit 72.7% of their shots from the field in the second half.
Despite the loss, Valparaiso finished the season above .500 for the 13th time in 14 years. The loss also ends the career of just one Valparaiso senior, center Moussa Mbaye (Dakar, Senegal/Life Center [N.J.] Academy), who finishes his four years at Valpo with 266 points and 334 rebounds.