Ron Howard (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) scored a game-high 24 points to lead Valparaiso back from an 11-point deficit to a 69-63 win Saturday night over Capital in the team's exhibition opener at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The senior captain poured in 12 points in each half and executed a game-changing four point play with 3:41 to go, giving Valpo a 60-58 lead they would not relinquish. Mohamed Kone (Lyon, France/Jean Paul Saltre) found Howard out of a triple-team in the post, and Howard drilled the deep jumper as he was knocked to the ground. One possession later, Howard and Jimmie Miles (Country Club Hills, Ill./Rich Central) forced a turnover leading to a Miles three-point play, and sealing the outcome.
Howard led the way for a strong Valpo defensive effort as well. The Brown and Gold forced 19 turnovers and held Capital to five points over the last 5:45. Howard had four of Valpo's seven steals and chipped in a game-high six assists. In his much anticipated debut, Kone finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including back-to-back dunks to open the game. The transfer from the College of Southern Idaho also corralled five rebounds before fouling out with 3:06 left.
Valpo got solid contributions from both the starting and reserve units, getting big minutes from their four freshmen and senior guard Ali Berdiel (Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean) in the middle of the second stanza. Off the bench, sophomore Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) played 22 minutes, scoring four points to go along with three blocks and a team-high six rebounds.
The Brown and Gold played without preseason All-Conference forward Dan Oppland (Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) and co-captain Seth Colclasure (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont), both shelved with injuries.
Capital took a 17-15 lead midway through the first half and would not trail again until Howard's four-point play. The visitors' biggest lead was 11 in the first half, and they still led by a 47-37 margin with 14:03 to play. Jake Meisler led Capital with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Valpo concludes the exhibition portion of their schedule Saturday, November 12 at 7:00 p.m. when they take on Calumet College at the Athletics-Recreation Center. That game will be carried live on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
View the box score here