Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Valpo Clinches 8th Mid-Con Regular Season Championship With Win Over IUPUI

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Valparaiso, Ind. - Valpo clinched its 8th Mid-Continent Conference regular season championship in the last nine years with a 77-71 victory over IUPUI. Stalin Ortiz led the Crusaders (17-8, 11-1 Mid-Con) with 21 points, six rebounds and four steals in the home finale. Kikas Gomes netted 12 points and Raitis Grafs added 10 points and four blocked shots.

Valpo secured its sixth straight win by making eight-of-10 free throws in the final 50 seconds. Gomes drained five-of-six charity tosses in the last 41 seconds.

Behind 11 second-half points from Ortiz and 10 from Grafs, Valpo increased a 35-26 halftime lead to as many as 17 (68-51) with 6:06 remaining. Grafs, one of six Valpo seniors playing his final home game, made four short jumpers in the first 5:15 of the second half to help the Crusaders extend the lead. Ortiz scored seven of his second-half points from the free throw line.

Matt Crenshaw, who topped IUPUI (15-13, 8-4 Mid-Con) with a career-high 24 points, scored six points during a 13-1 run that cut Valpo's lead to 66-64 with 1:05 left. A free throw by Seth Colclasure and two more by Gomes established an eight-point Valpo advantage with 41 seconds remaining. The Jaguars could get no closer than the final score the rest of the way.

In the first half, IUPUI raced out to a 5-0 lead before Gomes converted a layup with 18:02 left. Roberto Nieves, who scored seven points and tied Ortiz for team-high rebounding honors with six, swished a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the Jaguars' lead to 7-5. After Gomes made a layup to tie the game at 7-7 with 16:22 remaining, Dan Oppland gave Valpo its first lead (9-7) with a layup.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Chris Sanders and Josh Mullins gave IUPUI a 15-9 advantage at the 13:23 mark. Two, 3-pointers by Greg Tonagel and six points by Ortiz ignited a 19-2 run, which gave Valpo a 28-17 lead with 7:57 left. Antti Nikkila also made two short jumpers during the stretch.

Tonagel tallied nine points and dished out a game-high seven assists, while Ali Berdiel had six assists and two steals for Valpo. Odell Bradley scored 12 points and Sanders and Mullins added 12 and 10 points, respectively for IUPUI. Josh Murray topped IUPUI with nine rebounds.

Valpo finished shooting 48 percent overall (24 of 50), including 43 percent (6 of 14) from 3-point range. IUPUI shot 36 percent overall (21 of 59), including 26 percent from beyond the arc (5 of 19). The Crusaders made 23 of 37 free throw attempts to the Jaguars' 24 of 32.

Following the game, Valpo seniors Grafs, Tonagel, Ortiz, Nikkila, Phil Wille and Jason Hawkins addressed the near-capacity crowd with farewell speeches.

The win marked the earliest clinching of a Mid-Con regular season title in Valpo's history. The Crusaders have won 12 of their last 13 games.

Valpo travels to play at UMKC on Thursday at 7 p.m.

W Golf IPFW Spring Invitational Fort Wayne, Ind. (Chestnut Hills G.C.)
Apr 6 4th/12 (311)
W Tennis Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 6 Milwaukee 7
Softball Detroit 0 VU Softball Field
Apr 6 Valpo 8
Baseball Wright State 4 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 6 Valpo 2
W Golf IPFW Spring Invitational Fort Wayne, Ind. (Chestnut Hills G.C.)
Apr 7 9th/12 (642)
Softball Northern Illinois 6 VU Softball Field
Apr 8 Valpo 8
Baseball Valpo 5 Evanston, Ill.
Apr 8 Northwestern 12
Softball Northern Illinois 3 8 inn.
Apr 8 Valpo 4
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17, 3:00 p.m. Milwaukee
M Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 11:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18, 3:00 p.m. Milwaukee
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 18, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
W Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19
W Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19, 1:00 p.m. Milwaukee
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 5:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26 Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State