Valparaiso, Ind. - Five Crusaders scored in double figures as first-place Valpo (16-8, 10-1 Mid-Con) defeated Oakland 81-65. Stalin Ortiz led the way with 19 points and Joaquim Gomes scored 12. Raitis Grafs, Greg Tonagel and Roberto Nieves added 10 points each. Rawle Marshall led all scorers with 25 points for Oakland.
Valpo and Oakland traded baskets in the opening minutes and, with the score tied at six, Oakland (14-10, 7-4 Mid-Con) went on a 15-7 run to lead 21-13 with 10:20 left in the half.
The Crusaders then took over, outscoring the Golden Grizzlies 20-10 the remainder of the half. Valpo led at the break 33-32, much in part to Ortiz's 13 first-half points.
The second half started off a lot better for the Crusaders, as they quickly jumped to an eight-point lead after four-and-a-half minutes. Valpo, with its strong defense and 60 percent shooting in the second half, took a 19-point lead (68-49) with 6:39 remaining.
Oakland, behind Marshall's 15 second-half points, tried to get back in the game, pulling within 13 with 4:45 left. However, it was not enough as Valpo pulled away behind Tonagel's and Gomes' 10 second-half points.
Valpo's defense was able to hold the nation's leading scorer, Mike Helms, to just seven points on two-of-14 shooting from the field. Helms also shot one-of-six from beyond the arc before fouling out with 8:05 remaining. The Crusaders held the Golden Grizzlies to 37 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent (5-of-18) from 3-point land.
The Crusaders shot 52 percent from the field, including 31 percent (5-of-16) from 3-point range. Ali Berdiel added six points and dished out seven of Valpo's 19 assists. Dan Oppland scored eight points.
Oakland's Cortney Scott scored nine points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for the Golden Grizzlies.
Valpo will host IUPUI (15-12, 8-3 Mid-Con) on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the home finale. The Crusaders can clinch their 8th regular season title with a win.