Valparaiso never led Wednesday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center, as IPFW used an early 14-3 run to jump out to a double-digit lead on its way to a 63-46 victory over the Crusaders.
The two squads traded baskets in the early going, with Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Madison) converting two early layups to help the Crusaders to a 6-6 tie with the Mastodons just under four minutes into the game. IPFW’s Deilvez Yearby converted on a dunk and added the free throw for a 3-point play around the first media timeout to give the Mastodons the lead for good.
Valpo would not score for another three minutes, until Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School) split a pair of free throws with 12:50 to play in the opening stanza to cut the deficit to 12-7. The Mastodons’ Nick Daniels knocked down a triple on their next time down, and while Benjamin Fumey (Bremen, Germany/Freie Hansestadt) tried to quell the IPFW run with a step-back jumper, the Mastodons scored eight more points in a row, including another triple by Daniels, to take a 22-9 lead.
The lead remained in the low double figures for the remainder of the first half, as IPFW took a 31-18 lead into halftime. The Crusaders came out with renewed energy after the break, as Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) started the half with a layup, and Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) added two early efforts in the paint, including one on the fast break.
Daniels slowed down the Crusader momentum with a jumper to push the lead back up to nine points, but Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) responded with a triple and Igbavboa split a pair of free throws to cut the margin to five points at 33-28 with 16:40 to play. But that was as close as Valpo would get, as IPFW went on a 16-5 surge over the next eight minutes to take control for good.
Little led the Crusaders with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, but was the only Valpo player to reach double figures, as they shot just 31.1% from the floor and 19.0% behind the arc on the game. Diebler added eight points, three assists and two steals while not committing a turnover.
David Carson led IPFW (4-5) with game-high totals of 16 points and nine rebounds. Daniels and Yearby each chipped in 13 points in the winning effort, while Zach Plackmeier led all players with five assists.
Valparaiso (3-5) returns to the court on Saturday to travel to Miami (Ohio) in a return game from last year’s epic ESPNU BracketBusters contest on ESPN Classic. Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m. CST, and all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell) and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live statistics.