Valparaiso, Ind. - Stalin Ortiz drove and scored on a lay-up to beat the buzzer at the end of the first overtime to help Valpo (3-4) eventually defeat Samford (4-3) 87-79 in two overtimes. Raitis Grafs was a big factor as well, scoring a season-high 28 points. The Crusaders' overtime play was highlighted by outstanding free throw shooting as they converted 18 of 22 charity tosses. Seth Colclasure drained all six of his free throws in the final minute.
Valpo started the game off hot, leading 13-4 five minutes into the game. The Crusaders were up 25-13 with 7:45 to go in the first half when Samford, behind 55 percent first half three-point shooting, finished the half outscoring Valpo 19-5 to lead 32-30.
Grafs finished the half with 11 points and Roberto Nieves had eight.
In the second half, Valpo found itself down by four with 13 minutes to go when Antti Nikkila started scoring at will, netting seven of his 12 points. Grafs added 13 points and Ali Berdiel helped out as well, dishing out four of his seven assists.
It wasn't enough to win the game in regulation however, as Samford's Phillip Ramelli scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs put the game into overtime. The Crusaders and Samford ended the second half knotted at 59.
At the start of overtime, Samford got off to a quick three-point lead with four minutes to play. However, the Crusaders were able to keep the score close and tie the game at the buzzer on Ortiz's two most important points of the game to send the game into double overtime tied at 67.
In the second overtime, Valpo outscored Samford 8-3 to lead 77-70 with a minute to go. The Bulldogs, with their three-point shooting, tried to get back in the game, closing the gap to three points with 33 seconds to play, but Valpo was able to pull away once again.
Valpo controlled the ball well throughout the game, committing just 10 turnovers, and forced the Bulldogs to turn the ball over 19 times. The Crusaders finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field and 78 percent (29-37) from the free-throw line, including 71 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free-throw line in the overtime periods.
Colclasure scored eight points and Berdiel scored nine and had three steals, to help Valpo win its seventh straight overtime game.
Valpo will be in action Friday when it welcomes the Belmont Bruins to the Athletics-Recreation Center. Tip-off is 7:05 p.m.