Valparaiso, Ind. - Shawn Huff made two free throws with seven seconds left to tie the game in regulation and Ron Howard went 7-for-7 from the free throw line in overtime as Valpo (11-11, 7-3) defeated Centenary 81-75 to win its fourth straight. Dan Oppland led the Crusaders with 23 points. Howard, who scored 22 points, set Valpo's single-game record for made free throws with 18.
In a game that featured 17 lead changes and eight ties, Centenary (2-19, 0-10) broke a 67-67 tie on Jarmorrow Moragne's layup with 1:03 left in regulation. Following a Valpo miss with 49 seconds remaining, Centenary had possession of the ball and the opportunity to run the clock down to the 10-second mark. As the shot clock was ready to expire, Valpo's Jimmie Miles made a steal and passed to Huff who was fouled driving for a potential game-tying layup. The freshman calmly drained both free throws with seven seconds left.
After the Gentlemen were whistled for a traveling violation with four seconds left, Valpo had a chance to win the game, but Troy Williams stole a pass to force overtime.
In overtime, Howard gave Valpo a lead (72-69) it would not relinquish with three straight free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. Following a Centenary miss, Miles swished a 3-pointer with 3:52 left to give Valpo a 75-69 lead. Chad Maclies, who led the Gents with 20 points, split a pair of free throws. Oppland then made a short jumper to extend the Crusaders' advantage to 77-70 with 3:02 remaining.
Centenary, which has lost 14 straight games, pulled within 77-73 at the 2:27 mark on two free throws from Maclies and one by David Tolefree. Howard added two more charity tosses with 2:10 left and two more with 14 seconds left to expand the lead to 81-73.
Howard made 18 of 20 free throws, breaking Chris Ensminger's school record of 16 (of 22) against Troy State during the 1994-95 season.
Valpo, which held a 36-32 halftime lead, led by as many as seven (61-54) with 7:44 remaining. Centenary went on a 10-2 run behind 3-pointers by Tolefree and Tillman, to take a 64-63 lead with 3:52 left.
The Crusaders responded with a 4-0 spurt to grab a 67-64 lead as Harris made a layup and Howard converted two free throws. The Gents tied the game at 67-67 on Moragne's trey and took a 69-67 lead on Moragne's driving layup.
In the first half, Valpo led 7-2 before Centenary went on a 12-6 run to a take a 14-13 lead. After the Crusaders regained a brief lead, Centenary led by four (22-18) with 7:16 remaining. Valpo closed out the half on an 18-10 scoring spree to hold the four-point halftime lead. Oppland led Valpo with 12 first-half points, while Howard added 10.
Harris was a factor as he scored eight of his 12 points in the second half. Valpo, which held a 26-6 advantage in points in the paint, outrebounded the Gents 36-28. Harris, Oppland and Jarryd Loyd had six boards each. Loyd topped Valpo with six assists and Howard and Seth Colclasure dished out five each. Howard also made four of the Crusaders' eight steals.
Moragne scored 16 points, while Tyrone Hamilton netted 13 and Curtis Tillman added 12 for Centenary.
Valpo finished shooting 49 percent overall (26-53), making 50 percent of its shots (12-24) in each half. Centenary shot 48 percent overall (27-56), but made 1 of 5 shots in overtime. Valpo made 26 of 34 free throws (77 percent) to Centenary's 13 of 17 (77 percent).
Valpo hosts Chicago State on Monday beginning at 7:05 p.m.