Second-Half Offensive Blitz Lifts Valpo to Exhibition Win
Saturday, November 9, 2002
Valparaiso, Ind. - Valpo outscored Northwest Sports 62-25 in the second half as the Crusaders won its second exhibition game 108-74. Stalin Ortiz led five Crusaders in double figures with 20 points, including 11 in the second half.

Raitis Grafs scored 18 points, Roberto Nieves added 15 and Joaquim Gomes and Dan Oppland had 12 points each. Ed Gray, who has played in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, led Northwest Sports with 28 points, including 22 in the first 20 minutes. Andre Stewart tallied 16 points and Antonio Manns added 11 for Northwest Sports, which is comprised of former college players.

Valpo demonstrated a consistent shooting touch in each half and finished shooting 53 percent (42-80) from the floor. The Crusaders shot 53 percent in the first half and 52 percent in the second stanza. Northwest Sports, which held a 49-46 halftime lead, shot 56 percent in the first half. However, Valpo's defense limited Northwest Sports to 4-for-25 shooting (16 percent) in the second half.

The Crusaders began the second half with a 6-0 run to take a 52-49 lead as Gomes, Grafs and Ortiz each made baskets. The game was tied at 56-56 with 17:03 left before Valpo produced an 18-3 run in which six Crusaders scored. Grafs, who made eight of 12 shots overall, scored six points during the run.

Northwest Sports cut its deficit to 74-66 with 9:59 remaining before Valpo went on a 31-4 run to lead 105-70 with :59 left. Nieves led a balanced attack with 10 points, which included two, 3-pointers, during the scoring explosion.

Gray was spectacular in the first half, making nine of 11 shots, including four of six from 3-point range. Northwest Sports led by seven points twice in the first half before Valpo, led by Grafs' 10 first-half points, closed the gap before halftime.

For the second straight exhibition game, Valpo dominated the glass, outrebounding Northwest Sports 50-29. Ortiz topped the Crusaders with eight rebounds, while Oppland and Antti Nikkila grabbed seven each.

The Crusaders passed the ball effectively (26 assists) as Greg Tonagel and Seth Colclasure dished out five assists apiece and Ali Berdiel had four assists. Gomes snagged four of Valpo's 15 steals and Berdiel added three. Nikkila had two blocked shots.

Valpo opens the regular season on Sun., Nov. 24 at Syracuse beginning at noon (1 p.m. EST).