Kansas City, Mo. ? Top seed Valpo placed five players in double figures and defeated Chicago State 82-62 in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Quarterfinals. Kikas Gomes and Raitis Grafs led the Crusaders with 16 points each, while Greg Tonagel tallied 12, Dan Oppland netted 11 and Roberto Nieves added 10. The Crusaders (19-9) will play UMKC in the semifinals on Monday at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports Net Chicago. The #5-seed Kangaroos defeated #4-seed Oral Roberts 76-73 in the quarterfinals.
Valpo shot 55 percent overall (24-of-44) and converted 29-of-39 free throw attempts (74 percent). Chicago State (3-27) was limited to 42 percent shooting (20-of-48).
A 9-0 Valpo run in the first five minutes of the game set the tone. Four free throws by Grafs and three by Tonagel fueled the stretch. The Cougars scored their first points on two Steve Turner free throws with 15:26 left in the half. Leading 18-10 with 10 minutes left before intermission, Valpo went on an 8-0 run behind 3-pointers by Tonagel and Stalin Ortiz to take a 26-10 advantage with 6:46 remaining. Grafs led Valpo with 12 first-half points, which included 8-of-8 shooting from the free throw line, as the Crusaders led 38-20 at halftime.
Three-pointers by Nieves and Tonagel helped Valpo extend its lead to 24 points (48-24) ? its largest of the game. Five points each from Clark Bone and Derrick Wimmer ignited a 14-2 Chicago State run and cut Valpo's lead to 50-38 with 11:43 left.
Valpo responded to the Cougar surge as Grafs and Oppland scored four points each during a 13-4 run that increased the lead to 63-42 with 7:52 remaining. CSU could get no closer than 18 points on three separate occasions.
Grafs finished 10-of-10 from the free throw line and Tonagel was 3-of-3 from 3-point territory. The Crusaders controlled the boards, holding a 35-27 advantage. Oppland led Valpo with eight rebounds. Valpo, which assisted on 20 of 24 baskets, was led by Ali Berdiel with six assists. Bone topped CSU with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Wimmer added 13 points.