Valparaiso, Ind. - Dan Oppland led four Valpo players in double figures with 16 points as the Crusaders defeated Centenary 77-66 for their third straight victory.
Kikas Gomes recorded his ninth double-double of the season for the Crusaders with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Oumar Sylla netted a career-high 13 points and Ali Berdiel contributed 12 points and seven assists. Valpo won despite a career-high 32-point performance by Centenary's Andrew Wisniewski.
For the second consecutive game, Valpo (7-9, 4-3 Mid-Con) never trailed. The Crusaders broke a 4-4 tie with a 5-0 run and increased their lead to 30-14 with 5:46 left in the first half. Oppland and freshmen center Kenny Harris each scored seven points during Valpo's 26-10 run.
Behind eight points from Rickey Evans, the Gents went on a 12-2 run to pull within 32-26 with 2:28 remaining before intermission. The Crusaders received baskets from Jimmie Miles and Seth Colclasure to extend Valpo's halftime lead to 36-27.
Valpo began the second half much like the first 20 minutes, outscoring Centenary 12-2. Oppland, who scored five points during the stretch, gave the Crusaders their biggest lead (48-29) at the 16:13 mark with a conventional three-point play after a fast-break dunk.
Centenary (9-8, 3-3) made a furious comeback as Wisniewski drained four, 3-pointers and scored 18 points during a 10-minute span to cut its deficit to 62-57 with 6:36 left.
Valpo responded as Berdiel made three-of-four free throws to push the Valpo lead to 65-57. Two baskets by Sylla and 3-pointers by Gomes and Berdiel expanded the Crusaders' advantage to 77-62 with 1:19 remaining.
The Crusaders outrebounded the Gents 36-26 as Oppland joined Gomes in the board game with nine.
Valpo shot 55 percent (28-51) overall and made 17 of 23 from the free throw line (74 percent). Centenary finished shooting 42 percent (22-53) and converted 14 of 23 (61 percent) from the charity stripe.
Valpo hosts Southern Utah on Saturday in a special 3 p.m. tipoff.