Valparaiso, Ind. - Five IUPUI players scored in double figures as the Jaguars defeated Valpo 79-67 in the Crusaders' Mid-Con home opener. Dan Oppland and Ali Berdiel led Valpo (4-7, 1-1) with 14 points each, while Roberto Nieves added 12.
Akeem Clark topped IUPUI (9-4, 2-0) with 23 points. Brandon Cole tallied 17, James Booyer and Johnny Miller had 12, and Matt Crenshaw added 10 points and six assists for the Jaguars.
Kikas Gomes, who leads the Mid-Con in rebounding and blocked shots, grabbed a game-high eight boards and tied a career-high with five blocked shots.
The Jaguars scorched the nets early to claim a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes. Clark and Cole swished two, 3-pointers each during the stretch.
The Crusaders trimmed their deficit to 11 (19-8) with 12:23 left in the first half before IUPUI drained three more treys to highlight a 15-5 run that extended the Jaguars advantage to 34-13 with 8:43 remaining before halftime.
Trailing 40-22 with 2:52 left, Valpo outscored IUPUI 11-4 to close out the first half. Clark, who scored 15 points in the first 20 minutes, made five, 3-pointers - all before halftime. The Jaguars were red-hot from beyond the arc in the first half, making 54 percent (7-13).
IUPUI began the second half strong as Miller scored six points to ignite a 14-5 run that pushed the Jaguars' lead to 58-38 with 15:25 remaining.
Berdiel netted two, 3-pointers and Nieves made one trey during a 15-6 Valpo run that closed the gap to 64-53 at the 7:55 mark. IUPUI responded as Clark, Crenshaw and Cole made jumpers to extend the lead to 70-53 with 5:10 left. Valpo could get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
The Jaguars finished shooting 46 percent (26-56) overall, while Valpo shot 40 percent (23-57). Each team made eight, 3-pointers. IUPUI converted 19 of 27 free throws (70 percent) to 13 of 20 for the Crusaders (65 percent). IUPUI edged Valpo on the boards 36-35. Valpo committed 17 turnovers to 13 for IUPUI.
Valpo begins a three-game road swing on Thursday at UMKC. Tipoff is at 7:05 p.m.