Valpo opens the Mid-Continent Conference season on Saturday at Oakland beginning at 5 p.m. CST.
The Crusaders (3-6) are coming off of a 72-54 win over Liberty on Dec. 30 in the consolation game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic. Four Crusaders scored in double-figures, led by Ali Berdiel with 17 points. Ron Howard netted 14 points, Dan Oppland tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Oumar Sylla added 10 points. Kikas Gomes grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Berdiel, who leads the Mid-Con in assists (6.11 pg.), dished out 10 in the two games at the Fiesta Bowl Classic.
DAN OPPLAND NAMED TO FIESTA BOWL CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Sophomore Dan Oppland was selected to the Fiesta Bowl Classic All-Tournament Team. A 6'8" forward, Oppland averaged 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two games. In the consolation game win over Liberty, Oppland recorded his third double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) of the season. He helped ignite a second-half scoring surge, scoring 11 points as the Crusaders outscored the Flames 35-17 in the final 20 minutes. Oppland had 14 points in the opening round Fiesta Bowl loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 28.
GOMES ON REBOUNDING RAMPAGE: Kikas Gomes, who was leading the Mid-Con in rebounding (9.8 pg.), has been a major factor on the boards over the last month. The 6'8" senior averaged 11.4 rebounds over the previous five games prior to Saturday. During that span, Gomes had five straight double-figure rebounding games and four consecutive double-doubles (points and rebounds). Overall, Gomes was leading Valpo in scoring (12.9 ppg.) and leading the Mid-Con in blocked shots (1.9 pg.).
HOWARD COMING ON STRONG: In the previous four games prior to Saturday, sophomore Ron Howard averaged 11.8 ppg. The 6'5" swingman scored in double-figures in three of those games, including a career-high 15 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.