The Valparaiso University men's basketball team shook off a sluggish start and withstood a late Tulane rally to earn a 79-72 win Friday night in the opening round of the Hawkeye Challenge in Iowa City, Iowa.
Valpo seemingly took control of the game early in the second half, holding Tulane to two points in the first seven minutes, and opening up a 46-26 lead with 13 minutes left. Valpo led by as many as 22, but saw Tulane claw their way back within seven on a Ryan Williams three-pointer with just over five minutes to go. The Green Wave were unable to get any closer, however, as the Crusaders knocked down 14-of-17 foul shots down the stretch to move to 3-0 for the first time since the 1998-99 season when they started 5-0.
The Brown and Gold helped Tulane back into the game in the middle of the second half, committing 12 fouls in the first 12 minutes of the half. The Crusaders were whistled for 28 fouls in the game, and saw two players, Ali Berdiel
(Ponce, P.R./Andrean) and Jarryd Loyd
(Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West), foul out of the game.
(Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) again led the way for the Crusaders, scoring seven of the team's first nine points and finishing with a team-high 22 to go with eight rebounds. The senior has scored at least 20 points in seven straight games dating back to last season. Ron Howard
(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) was next with 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, and Mohamed Kone
(Lyon, France/Jean Paul Saltre) added 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
After trailing for much of the first half, Loyd capped a six-point Crusader spurt with a three-pointer to put Valpo up 22-19 with 6:00 to go. Valpo would not trail the rest of the frame, scoring 16 of the last 21 points in the first half, and taking a 32-24 lead into the break.
The first 20 minutes were carried by sloppy play on both sides. The Crusaders did not break into double-figures until more than ten minutes were gone in the half, and the Green Wave committed 14 turnovers. Kone led Valpo with nine points in the first, while Quincy Davis led Tulane with 14.
Valpo shot 40.4% from the floor in the game, including 6-of-21 (28.6% from three-point range) and made 31-of-42 shots from the free throw line. The Crusaders were out-rebounded by Tulane 42-37, but forced 22 total Green Wave turnovers. Tulane shot 43.3% from the floor, but made only 2-of-14 three-point attempts.
Davis finished with 22 points for the Green Wave (1-3), and Andrew Garcia added 14, all in the second half. Tulane picked up 44 of their 72 points in the paint, and scored 17 points on 15 offensive rebounds.
The Crusaders (3-0) return to action Saturday night to take on the winner of tonight's Fairfield-Iowa game for the Hawkeye Challenge Title. That game, scheduled to begin at 8:05 p.m., can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.