Valpo Looks To Rebound At Fiesta Bowl Classic; Crusaders Make Return Trip To Tucson
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Fiesta Bowl Classic
Dec. 28, 30, 2003
Tucson, AZ


WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 28 - 2:45 p.m. CST (1:45 p.m. MST)

WHERE: McKale Center, Tucson, Arizona

TV: - none

RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Ed Schillinger announcing.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Homer Drew, who has a career record of 507-311 in his 27th season and a record at Valpo of 238-189 in his 15th season. Louisiana-Lafayette is led by Jessie Evans, who has a career mark of 115-75 in his 7th season and a record at UL-Lafayette of 115-75 in his 7th season.

LAST MEETING: First Meeting

LAST GAME: Valpo lost to Loyola (Ill.) 76-69 on Dec. 13 in Valparaiso. UL-Lafayette lost to Xavier (Ohio) 78-74 on Dec. 20 in Cincinnati.

NEXT UP: Valpo will play the winner/loser of the Liberty/Arizona game on Tues., Dec. 30. The consolation game will be at 6 p.m. CST (5 p.m. MST) followed by the championship game at 8:30 p.m. CST (7:30 p.m. MST).

After final exams and a 15-day break from game competition, Valpo (2-5) will head west to play in the University of Arizona's Fiesta Bowl Classic Dec. 28, 30. The Crusaders oppose Louisiana-Lafayette (3-3) in the first game Sunday at 2:45 p.m. CST (1:45 MST). Liberty will tip off against Arizona at 5 p.m. CST (4 MST). The winners face off in Tuesday's championship game at 8:30 p.m. CST (7:30 MST). The consolation game precedes the title game at 6 p.m. CST (5 MST). Valpo is making a return trip to Tucson as the Crusaders lost a heartbreaker to Arizona 74-70 in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl Classic Championship Game.

Valpo will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak Sunday against the Ragin' Cajuns, who have won consecutive Sun Belt Conference West Division Championships. UL-Lafayette had won two straight before falling to Xavier (Ohio) 78-74 Dec. 20 in Cincinnati.

GOMES RED-HOT OVER LAST THREE: Kikas Gomes, who earned Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week honors for the week ending Dec. 14, has produced superb numbers recently. A senior from Luanda, Angola, Gomes recorded three straight double-doubles, averaging 18.0 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the last three games. In a 59-53 win over Indiana State Dec. 8, Gomes scored a career-high 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots. He scored 12 straight points in the second half to help Valpo take control of the contest. In an 86-82 loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Gomes tallied 19 points, 10 rebounds and a career and Mid-Con season-high five blocks. He finished the week with 16 points, 13 boards and two blocks in a 76-69 loss to Loyola (Ill.). Overall, Gomes has a league-best four double-doubles. For the three-game stretch, he shot 53 percent (19-36) from the floor, including 7-for-15 from 3-point range.

GOMES TOPS MID-CON IN BLOCKED SHOTS; RANKS 2nd IN REBOUNDING: Kikas Gomes leads the Mid-Con in blocked shots (2.0, 14 total) through Dec. 22. The 6'8" senior also stands 2nd in the league in rebounding (9.4 pg.).

BERDIEL LEADS MID-CON IN ASSISTS: Junior Ali Berdiel leads the Mid-Con in assists through Dec. 22. The 6'6" guard averages 6.43 apg. (45 in 7 games). Berdiel dished out a career-high 10 assists against Marquette and distributed nine versus Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

VALPO'S SCHEDULE LACED WITH NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS: Valpo has already played three 2003 NCAA Tournament teams - Marquette, Cincinnati, Wisconsin-Milwaukee - and will play Duke and IUPUI, which also played in the Big Dance a year ago. If the Crusaders advance to the Fiesta Bowl Classic Championship, they could face another NCAA team - Arizona.