Valparaiso, Ind. - Dan Oppland tallied 20 points and nine rebounds and Seth Colclasure tied a career high with 15 points as host Valpo defeated Northwestern State 74-61 in the first game of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
Jimmie Miles netted 12 points and Ron Howard added 11. Freshman guard Jarryd Loyd had game-highs of 11 rebounds and eight assists.
After Northwestern State scored the first four points of the game, Valpo went on a 12-0 run. Moussa Mbaye scored all four of his points and Howard and Colclasure each drained 3-pointers during the stretch.
Bolstered by consecutive 3-pointers by Colclasure and Howard, Valpo (2-5) orchestrated a 10-2 run to take a 22-6 lead with 12:39 remaining in the first half. The Crusaders led by as many as 19 (37-18 with 5:14 left) before the Demons finished the half with a 13-4 run to pull within 41-31 at halftime.
Northwestern State (5-4) picked up where it left off by outscoring Valpo 8-2 to trim its deficit to 43-39 with 16:54 left. Clifton Lee scored four points during the run.
Oppland, who has scored 20-or-more points in four straight games, tallied four points during a 5-0 run to push Valpo's lead to 48-39 at the 13:24 mark.
A balanced attack kept NSU close as Jermaine Wallace's 3-pointer with 9:36 left pulled the Demons within 54-49. Valpo still led 58-53 before Oppland made a layup and Colclasure hit another trey to give the Crusaders a 10-point advantage with 6:33 remaining. The closest NSU could get the rest of the way was within nine (70-61) with just over two minutes left.
Colclasure, who has averaged 12.0 points the last three games, was 5-for-7 from 3-point range. Valpo maintained its stellar free throw shooting, converting 15 of 18 (83 percent).
Overall, Valpo shot 53.1 percent (26-49) and outrebounded NSU 37-25. NSU finished shooting 44 percent (25-57).
Northwestern State was led by Wallace's 15 points.
On Sunday, Valpo plays #1-ranked Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in the second game of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic beginning at 4 p.m. The last time Valpo played the top ranked team in the nation was in 1979-80 when DePaul visited Valpo's old Hilltop Gym.