Durham, N.C. ? Fourth-ranked Duke drained 10, 3-pointers in the first half and went on to defeat Valpo 97-63 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The home victory was the 41st straight for the Blue Devils. Kikas Gomes led the Crusaders (13-12) with 18 points and 11 rebounds ? his 12th double-double of the season. Dan Oppland tallied 11 points and eight rebounds, while Ali Berdiel added 10 points.
Daniel Ewing topped Duke (23-3) with 20 points, which included three, 3-pointers. Luol Deng added 18 points and eight rebounds, while Shavlik Randolph scored 16 points and J.J. Redick had 15.
Duke came out of the gates quickly, making 10 of its first 11, 3-point shots. After the Crusaders tied the game at 2-2 on a Gomes layup, the Blue Devils went on a 37-11 run to take a 39-13 lead with 9:22 remaining before halftime. Five different Duke players made 3-pointers during the stretch as Ewing swished three and Redick and Randolph made two each. The Blue Devils, who made 10 of 16 (63 percent) from 3-point territory in the first half, took a 53-29 halftime lead.
The hot-shooting continued for Duke in the second half as it made 5-of-10 threes to lead by as many as 36. The Blue Devils finished 15-of-26 (58 percent) from beyond the arc as eight different players made at least one 3-pointer.
Gomes, a 6'8" senior, played a complete game, making 7-of-13 shots and all four of his free throw attempts. Gomes added two more blocked shots to his Mid-Continent Conference-leading total (49) and made two steals.
Freshmen Jimmie Miles and Kenny Harris came off the bench for the Crusaders to score nine and six points, respectively.
Valpo outrebounded Duke 45-39, which included a 23-9 advantage on the offensive glass. Oppland grabbed a game-high six offensive boards, while Gomes and Berdiel snagged four each. After committing 12 turnovers in the first half, Valpo made four miscues in the second half. Duke committed 11 turnovers.
Both teams shot free throws extremely well as Duke converted 20-of-23 (87 percent) and Valpo made 14-of-17 (82 percent). Duke finished shooting 48 percent (31-64) overall to 31 percent (23-74) for the Crusaders. Valpo made 3-of-11 from 3-point range.
The game was the first of a three-year agreement between the schools. Valpo and Duke will play at Chicago's United Center next season and the Crusaders will return to Durham in 2005-06.
Valpo will attempt to stop a two-game losing skid by hosting IPFW on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Seniors Roberto Nieves and Gomes will be honored prior to the game.
After the results of Thursday's Mid-Continent Conference games, Valpo (10-5) is in a three-way tie for first place with IUPUI and Centenary. Chicago State hosts Centenary on Saturday afternoon, while IUPUI entertains UMKC on Saturday night. The Crusaders conclude the Mid-Con season on Tuesday by hosting Chicago State at 7:05 p.m. With a win, Valpo would capture at least a share of the conference championship.