An inspired second half blew open a close game and helped Valpo coast late to an 89-74 win over Centenary Thursday night in Shreveport, La.
The Crusaders took control right after the halftime break, scoring eight of the first 12 points in the second half, and building a 49-39 lead. Their defensive pressure to open the half was outstanding, forcing five Centenary turnovers in the first four minutes. Four minutes later the lead was up to 21, and Valpo would lead by as much as 24 before cruising to the finish. Mohamed Kone
(Lyon, France/Jean Paul Sartre) led the second half explosion with nine points in the first nine minutes of the half, with Dan Oppland
(Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) contributing 11 of his own in the second half.
Valpo's defense in the second half was suffocating, and their full court press forced 10 Gent turnovers in the half, for a total of 20 in the game. Ron Howard
(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) had a season-high four steals to lead the Crusaders, who had 13 thefts as a team. Their work on the defensive end also held Centenary to just 39.0% shooting from the field and 6-of-17 from three.
The game started tight until Shawn Huff
(Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) converted a three-point play to put the Crusaders up 36-31 with under four minutes remaining in the half. A few more defensive stops followed, and Seth Colclasure
(Decatur, Ind./Bellmont) got the lead to 41-31 on his third triple with one minute to go. Larry Logan, who had 15 points in the first half, scored four in the final 45 seconds for the Gents to make the score 41-35 Crusaders at the break.
Oppland and Colclasure had 11 each in the first half, with Howard and Jimmie Miles
(Country Club Hills, Ill./Rich Central) chipping in seven. Oppland led Valpo on the glass with six, as the Crusaders out-rebounded the Gents 21-18 in the opening 20 minutes.
Valpo was led offensively by Oppland, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing a second straight double-double. Colclasure had one of his best shooting nights of the season, coming off the bench to drain six-of-eight shots, including five-of-six from three-point range. Howard was the only other Crusader to hit double-figures, finishing with a balanced 12 points, five rebounds and four assists to go with his four steals.
(Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West), making his first start in nearly a month, had six of Valpo's 19 assists. Ali Berdiel
(Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean), Oppland and Jake Diebler
(Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) had three helpers each.
Logan led the Gents (2-8, 0-1 Mid-Con) with 22 points and seven rebounds, with Alexander Starr contributing 19. Centenary was out-rebounded 40-37 by the Crusaders.
The Crusaders (6-4, 1-1 Mid-Con) return to action after the new year when they open a four-game homestand January 2 against Oakland. That game is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. start at the Athletics-Recreation Center and can be seen live on WYIN 56 and WHME, channel 46. The game will also be broadcast live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics, with the network pregame beginning at 6:50 p.m.