Valpo built a 19-point halftime lead and went on to defeat Penn State 69-56 in the semifinals of the Arizona State Holiday Classic. The Crusaders advance to play in the championship game Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT against the winner of the Arizona State-Long Island semifinal.
Seth Colclasure tied his career high with 15 points to lead four Crusaders in double figures. Dan Oppland and Jimmie Miles added 13 points each. Ron Howard tallied 12 points and career-highs of six steals and five assists.
Valpo (3-6), which never trailed, went on a 15-0 run to extend a 15-11 lead to 30-11 with 4:42 remaining in the first half. During that stretch, the Crusaders held the Nittany Lions scoreless for 7:48. Miles scored seven points during the run, while Oppland and Howard netted four points each.
Oppland led Valpo with 11 first-half points as the Crusaders held a 34-15 lead at intermission. Valpo made 52 percent of its shots (14-27) in the first half. Penn State (5-6) was limited to 20 percent shooting (4-20) in the first 20 minutes, including 1-12 from 3-point range.
Valpo increased its advantage to as much as 24 points (41-17) with 16:32 left before Penn State made a run. The Nittany Lions pulled within nine (55-46) with 5:06 left before Valpo went on a 6-0 run to take a 61-46 lead with four minutes remaining.
The victory marked the first win for Valpo over a Big Ten opponent since defeating Ohio State (67-64) during the 2000-01 season at the Great Alaska Shootout. Over the last seven years, Valpo has defeated teams from the Big Ten, Conference USA, Big East, ACC, SEC and Atlantic 10.