Saturday, February 25, 2006Dan Oppland
(Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) scored 25 points and hauled in 12 rebounds in the final regular season game of his career, but the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles were too strong, toppling the Crusaders 87-78 Saturday night at the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Okla.
Oppland scored 20-plus points for the 14th time this season, and recorded his fourth double-double in the last five games. The senior has scored 1,745 points in his career, third most all-time, and stands 40 behind Tracy Gipson for second place.
The Crusaders will continue their season next weekend at the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. Valpo will open tourney play Sunday, March 5 at 6:00 p.m. as the fourth seed, and will take on Southern Utah in the opening round.
As for Saturday's game, both teams started cold from the field, especially the Crusaders, who went on a nearly five minute scoring drought after Ron Howard
(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) opened the scoring with a four-point play. Howard scored Valpo's first seven points, and single-handedly kept his team in the game offensively through the first six minutes.
The score was 8-7 Oral Roberts when Oppland first got hot and ripped off seven straight of his own, building the Crusaders a 14-8 lead, one they would maintain until Ken Tutt drained a baseline three-pointer with 7:10 left in the half. The two teams traded the advantage for much of the rest of the period, but a late 7-1 Oral Roberts run sent the Golden Eagles into the locker room on top 38-35.
Oppland led Valpo with 13 points in the first half and Howard chipped in nine. Caleb Green led the hosts with 16, while Tutt added 10. The Crusaders hit 6-of-9 three-pointers in the first 20 minutes and out-rebounded ORU 24-18, but committed 11 turnovers and forced only two.
The hosts came out of the locker room strong, quickly building their biggest lead of the game, 50-40, on a Jonathan Bluitt three-pointer five minutes in. Oral Roberts maintained a comfortable cushion for the next nine minutes, with the lead never dipping below six or growing above 13.
With the Golden Eagles up 69-60 and under five minutes to go, Seth Colclasure
(Decatur, Ind./Bellmont) knocked down an open triple from the corner to cut the lead to 69-63. But that would be as close as the Crusaders would get, as the hosts had an answer for every made Valpo basket and made 12 straight free throws down the stretch.
Howard and Ali Berdiel
(Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean) each had 16 points, with Berdiel adding four rebounds and four assists. Colclasure had nine points off the bench for the Crusaders, who shot 43.1% from the field and knocked down 10-of-21 three-pointers. Valpo out-rebounded Oral Roberts, the top rebounding team in the league, 41-38.
Green, the preseason Player of the Year, totaled 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Golden Eagles (18-11, 13-3 Mid-Con), who also got 18 off the bench from Tutt and 16 from Larry Owens, who it 12-of-16 free throws.
The game featured an astounding 57 fouls, saw three players foul out, and watched the teams combine to shoot 70 free throws.
The Brown and Gold's (16-11, 8-8 Mid-Con) entire run through the Mid-Con Tournament can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Pregame coverage of Valpo's first round game is scheduled to begin at 5:50 p.m.