(Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) and Ron Howard
(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) each had big nights, but J.J. Redick's top-ranked Duke Blue Devils pulled away late for a 104-77 victory over the Valparaiso Crusaders Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Oppland finished with 25 points and six rebounds on 11-of-18 shooting. Howard scored a season-high 20 points, 13 in the second half, and made 8-of-12 field goal attempts. But it was Redick, the 2005 National Player of the Year, who had the biggest game of all, scoring 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-9 from three-point range.
The Blue Devils started the game on fire, hitting their first seven shots shots, including three from three-point range, and opening a 20-10 lead four minutes in. The Crusaders would hang tough for a stretch, but when Mohamed Kone
(Lyon, France/Jean Paul Saltre) picked up his third foul of the game with 12:52 remaining in the first half the hosts ripped off 11 points in 52 seconds to open a 34-16 lead.
Duke's lead grew as big as 19, but Valpo would not relent, going on a 7-0 run to close within 12 points on an Ali Berdiel
(Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean) layup with under eight minutes to go in the half. Duke would rebuild its lead to 19 later shortly thereafter, before back-to-back Berdiel steals ignited a 6-0 run to keep the Crusaders within striking distance. With the Duke lead at 14 with under two minutes left, Valpo went on yet another spurt, this time scoring seven straight to make the halftime score 53-44.
Oppland paced the Crusaders with 18 points and five rebounds in the first half, with Howard and Shawn Huff
(Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) chipping in seven points each. Redick led the Blue Devils with 15 points. The hosts shot 51.6% from the floor in the first half, and made 16-of-20 free throws, but the Crusaders out-rebounded Duke 25-15 including a 9-3 advantage on the offensive glass.
Duke started the second half the same way they did the first, outscoring Valpo 15-4 through the first five minutes and pushing the lead to 20. With the Crusaders back within 16 with 11 to go, Redick provided the dagger, draining a three from the left wing while being fouled, and finishing the four-point play moments later.
Valpo shot a very strong 48.5% from the floor in the game, but made just 2-of-14 three-point attempts. The Crusaders were also solid inside, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and scoring 48 points in the paint. Berdiel had one of his best all-around games of the season with 10 points, five rebounds, and three assists, while Huff added nine points and three boards. Jarryd Loyd
(Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) played 19 minutes off the bench and scored six points to go along with a team-high five assists. The Brown and Gold gave up 100 points for the first time since a 115-104 loss to Troy State, January 15, 1996.
Four Blue Devils (10-0) placed in double-figures, as Shelden Williams finished with 19 points for Duke and 11 rebounds, while Lee Melchionni added 18 points and Sean Dockery had 14. Duke shot the ball tremendously well, making 57.8% of their field goal attempts, and 8-of-19 three-pointers. The Blue Devils shot 21 more free throws than the Crusaders, going 28-of-36 from the charity stripe.
The Crusaders (4-3) will return to action Tuesday night at 6:00 at Longwood, their final non-conference game before their December 27 Mid-Con opener against UMKC at the Athletics-Recreation Center at 7:05 p. m. Both games can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.