Sunday, December 28, 2003
Tucson, Ariz. - Kikas Gomes scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but Valpo (2-6) was defeated by Louisiana-Lafayette 95-71 in the opening round of the Fiesta Bowl Classic. The double-double was the fourth straight for Gomes, who made seven of 11 shots. Cedric Williams tallied 23 points to pace five Ragin' Cajuns in double figures. Dan Oppland added 14 points for Valpo.
Louisiana-Lafayette (4-3) scored the first five points of the game and outscored the Crusaders 12-2 in the first four minutes. Brad Boyd netted six points during the stretch.
The Ragin' Cajuns gradually increased their advantage and led by 18 (34-16) with 9:20 left in the half. Oppland scored six points to key an 18-11 run as Valpo trimmed its halftime deficit to 47-36.
Boyd, who finished with 17 points, opened the second half by draining three straight free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. The Ragin' Cajuns extended their lead to 62-44 as Brian Hamilton scored five of his 17 points during the run.
Valpo pulled within 11 again as Kenny Harris scored six points and Gomes added five during a 13-6 Crusader stretch.
Louisiana-Lafayette used an 8-0 run - keyed by six points from Williams - to build a 20-point lead (81-61) with just under six minutes remaining. Williams scored 15 of his points in the second half.
Dwayne Mitchell finished with 15 points and six assists for the Ragin' Cajuns, while Laurie Bridges added 12 points and seven assists. Antoine Landry also dished out seven of Louisiana-Lafayette's 25 assists.
Turnovers hurt the Crusaders, who committed 21 miscues to 10 for the Ragin' Cajuns. Led by Williams' eight boards, Louisiana-Lafayette outrebounded Valpo 33-29. Moussa Mbaye grabbed a team-high six rebounds, while Ali Berdiel passed for six assists and Ron Howard had five assists for the Crusaders.
Louisiana-Lafayette shot 51 percent (33-65) from the field, while Valpo converted 48 percent (28-58) overall. The Ragin' Cajuns held a major advantage at the free throw line, making 25 of 35 (71 percent) to Valpo's 12 of 14 (86 percent). Louisiana-Lafayette made 11 steals.
Gomes, who leads the Mid-Continent Conference in blocked shots, had two.
Valpo will face Liberty on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST in the consolation game, while Louisiana-Lafayette will face host Arizona in the championship game at 8:30 p.m.