Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Valpo Closes Legends Classic With Win Over Arkansas-Fort Smith
Cory Johnson led all players Sunday with 26 points and nine rebounds. (Ray Acevedo)
Cory Johnson led all players Sunday with 26 points and nine rebounds. (Ray Acevedo)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) posted a game-high 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting and Valparaiso led for the game’s last 30 minutes en route to an 86-74 victory over Arkansas-Fort Smith Sunday afternoon in Statesboro, Ga. to close out play at the Legends Classic.

“The biggest thing for us was finishing 2-1 on this trip,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew.  “It was a good tournament for us, allowing us to play a number of people and giving our underclassmen chances to learn on the court.”

The Lions got out to a quick 8-1 lead just 3:35 into the game, but Valpo responded immediately with an 11-2 spurt over the next three minutes to take its first lead at 12-10 with 13:37 left in the opening half.  Later in the stanza, with the score tied at 19-19, Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) got loose for back-to-back layups to give Valpo the lead for good and spurring an 11-0 Crusader spurt, which also included five points by Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North), to put Valpo ahead 30-19 with 7:41 left in the half.

Arkansas-Fort Smith answered back with ten straight points of its own to cut the lead back down to one point with 5:37 left in the first half, but the Crusader defense kept the Lions from re-gaining the advantage.  The lead remained in the low to mid single digits for the remainder of the opening period, and McPherson eventually gave the Crusaders a 43-38 halftime advantage with a last-second driving layup.

The Lions kept within striking distance early in the second half, trailing by just six after a 3-pointer with 17:11 to play, but a big 11-0 run by Valpo gave the Crusaders some breathing room.  Johnson kicked off the spurt with two straight layups, followed by a Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) layup.

Three possessions later, Matt Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville) found Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School) for an open 3-pointer to make the advantage 15 points.  Little then lobbed one to Wood on the fast break following a steal to cap the run and push the Crusader lead to 62-45 with 11:55 to play.  Valpo never let the Lions close the deficit under double digits the rest of the way as the Crusaders closed out a 2-1 stint in Statesboro.

Johnson was one of four Crusaders to finish in double figures in the scoring column.  McPherson knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points off the bench, while Wood scored all 12 of his points in the second half and Little added ten points off the bench.  Johnson also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, with Wood adding seven caroms, while Kenney led all players with seven assists as the Crusaders posted 24 helpers on 35 field goals.

“Matt had a great game for us today, with his seven assists and no turnovers really helping us get a double-digit lead and hold it,” said Drew.  “Cory really moved well around the basket, and his teammates did a great job of finding him in position for easy baskets.  24 assists is a great result from the way we moved the ball today to get a lot of good, open looks.”

Aaron McHenry led Arkansas-Fort Smith (1-6) with 23 points, while Josh Simmons chipped in 15 points as four Lions finished in double figures as well.  The Lions connected on a 50.0% (11-of-22) clip from behind the arc, but registered just seven assists while being forced into 14 turnovers by the Crusaders.

“We must still improve both rebounding and on defense,” said Drew.  “But we are looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead of us, with a pair of ranked teams coming up next on our schedule.”

Valparaiso (3-4) begins Horizon League play the next time it hits the court, playing at #12/10 Butler this Saturday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. CST, a change from the original start time.  As always, all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WAKE [1500 AM, Valparaiso] and WEFM [95.9 FM, Michigan City]) and online at www.valpoathletics.com.  Live video will be available through the Horizon League Network, with a link available on the Crusaders’ website, which will also have a link for live stats.

News Categories
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. #21/21 Notre Dame
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay