Strong Second Half Propels Valpo Past Chicago State; Dan Oppland, Sylla Pace Crusaders
Saturday, February 7, 2004
Chicago - Dan Oppland scored 23 points and Oumar Sylla added 14 as Valpo (11-10, 8-4) used a strong second-half surge to defeat Chicago State 79-68. Jimmie Miles came off the bench to score 11 points for Valpo. The Crusaders outscored Chicago State 48-36 in the second half.

Craig Franklin led CSU with 18 points, while Tony Weeden added 11.

Valpo, which trailed 32-31 at halftime, took the lead (51-49) for good on Sylla's jumper with 10:08 remaining. Two Oppland layups expanded the lead to 55-49 before Weeden scored five points during a 5-1 run to pull the Cougars within two points (56-54) with 7:43 left.

Sylla (four points) and Oppland (three) ignited a 7-0 run to extend the advantage to 63-54. CSU (7-17, 5-5) cut its deficit to six (63-57) until the Crusaders orchestrated a 9-0 run to take control (72-57) with three minutes left. Miles made a 3-pointer and scored five points during the stretch. The Cougars could get no closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Valpo shot the ball effectively, making 52 percent (26-52) of its field goal attempts, including 55 percent (12-22) in the second half. The Crusaders dominated the free throw line, converting 25 of 35 (71 percent).

Chicago State finished shooting 39 percent (24-62) and made 63 percent (15-24) from the charity stripe.

Kenny Harris came off the bench to contribute eight points and four rebounds, while Greg Tonagel scored seven points.

Oppland and Sylla grabbed seven rebounds each as Valpo outrebounded the Cougars 38-35. Ali Berdiel had a game-high seven assists, Sylla dished out a career-high five and Miles distributed four of the Crusaders total of 22. Kikas Gomes, the Mid-Con's leader in blocked shots, had four.

Both coaching staffs wore sneakers in recognition of National Coaches vs. Cancer Awareness Day sponsored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

Valpo begins a two-game homestand on Thursday against Oral Roberts beginning at 7:05 p.m.