Valparaiso, Ind. - Jimmie Miles led four Crusaders in double figures with 17 points as Valpo defeated Western Illinois 73-57. Ali Berdiel tallied 12 points and seven assists, Dan Oppland scored 11 and Oumar Sylla added 10 points for Valpo (6-9, 3-3 Mid-Con). Will Lewis led the Leathernecks with 17 points.
The Crusaders, who led the entire game, built an 18-9 lead in the first eight minutes. Berdiel drained two, 3-pointers in the first two minutes and Miles added seven points during the stretch, capped off by a 3-pointer with 11:57 remaining in the half.
Freshmen Miles (2), Sylla (4) and Kenny Harris (2) ignited an 11-3 run to extend the lead. Senior Roberto Nieves swished a 3-pointer with 3:28 left to give the Crusaders a 31-14 advantage with 3:28 remaining. Valpo took a 37-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Solid defense by Valpo limited WIU (2-14, 0-5) to 29 percent (16-50) shooting in the first 20 minutes. Valpo shot 46 percent (12-26) before intermission, including making 5-of-10 from 3-point territory. Berdiel and Miles had nine points each in the first half.
Both teams played to a standoff in the second half with each scoring 36 points. The Leathernecks pulled within 11 (60-49) with 6:09 left and Valpo responded with an 11-0 run to produce its biggest lead (71-49) with 2:49 left. Oppland and Miles each scored four points during the spurt.
Rebounding was a major factor in the game as the Crusaders held a 48-27 advantage on the glass. Kikas Gomes, who leads the Mid-Con in rebounding (10.1 pg.) and blocked shots (30), grabbed nine boards and blocked three shots. Harris snagged seven rebounds, Nieves dished out four assists and Berdiel made three steals.
Valpo finished shooting 45 percent (26-58) overall, including 44 percent (7-16) from 3-point range. The Crusaders made 14 of 18 free throws (78 percent). WIU shot 32 percent overall, including 27 percent (4-15) from beyond the arc. T. J. Gray added 13 points and four assists for the Leathernecks.
Valpo, which owns a two-game win streak, continues a four-game homestand on Thursday against Centenary beginning at 7:05 p.m.