Milwaukee, Wis. - Dan Oppland led three Valpo players in double-figures with 18 points and the Crusaders used a second-half surge to defeat Arkansas-Monticello 72-53 in the opening round of the Pepsi Blue & Gold Classic at the Bradley Center. Valpo (1-0) will play host Marquette in the championship game on Saturday at 8 p.m. The Golden Eagles (2-0) defeated Savannah State 79-41 in the nightcap.
Seth Colclasure scored a career-high 15 points, draining five of seven 3-pointers. Nine of the sophomore's points came in the second half. Kikas Gomes recorded a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Oppland and Gomes helped ignite the second-half scoring run with eight points each. Eric Womack led Arknasas-Monticello with 17 points, making five of nine from 3-point range.
Valpo broke open a close game with a 10-0 run midway through the second half. The Crusaders led 48-47 with 11:13 remaining when freshmen Kenny Harris and Jimmie Miles scored consecutive baskets to extend the lead to five. Oppland followed by scoring four of the next six points to push the advantage to 11 (58-47) with 8:42 left.
The Boll Weevils pulled within seven with 7:29 remaining and Valpo finished the contest by outscoring Arkansas-Monticello 14-2. Colclasure swished two 3-pointers during the stretch.
Womack hit four, 3-pointers to help the Boll Weevils grab an 11-point lead (21-10) in the first half. Valpo responded with a 25-12 run to end the first 20 minutes. Oppland sank three of four shots and converted four of five free throws for 10 points in the half. Colclasure added two treys as the Crusaders took a 35-33 lead into the locker room.
Valpo finished shooting 48 percent (29-60) overall, making six of 23 from 3-point land. Arkansas-Monticello made 39 percent (20-51) of its shots, including 33 percent (8 for 24) from beyond the arc. The Crusaders outrebounded the Boll Weevils 38-28 as Dan Oppland had six rebounds and Mike Oppland added five. Valpo forced 24 Arkansas-Monticello turnovers as the Crusaders made 11 steals.
Ali Berdiel dished out seven assists and Colclasure passed for six. Miles scored seven points and had three assists, while Harris contributed six points.