(Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) 22-point night moved him into third all-time on the Valpo scoring charts and boosted the Crusaders to a 70-64 win over Chicago State Thursday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Oppland passed Lubos Barton with his 1,676th point early in the second half, and now stands with 1,682 career tallies, just over 100 shy of the second-place Tracy Gipson. The senior had 12 of his points in the second half and shot a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the win.
The first half Thursday was a nip and tuck affair, with neither team leading by more than six points and the clubs going into the locker room tied at 33. Valpo pulled away quickly in the second half, starting the frame on a 15-4 run capped by a Seth Colclasure
(Decatur, Ind./Bellmont) three-pointer in transition that made it 48-37 in favor of the hosts.
The Cougars would not lead again in the ballgame, but made things plenty interesting late, getting eight straight points from David Holston to pull within 59-53 with 6:00 remaining. After Royce Parran hit a three-pointer to cut it to 66-61 with 47 seconds left, Kevin Jones Jr. had a steal and Teran Lee converted a three-point play to make it 66-64 with 31 seconds remaining. After Ali Berdiel
(Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean) missed the front end of a one-and-one on the next Crusader possession, Oppland boarded the miss, was fouled, and nailed both free throws to ice it for Valpo.
Colclasure had a breakout night for the Brown and Gold, hitting 4-of-7 three-pointers after going 0-for-12 from long distance in his last two games. The senior finished with 15 points, two assists and two steals. Ron Howard
(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) was the only other Crusader in double-figures with 13 points in 34 minutes.
As a team, the Crusaders shot the ball extremely well from the charity stripe, hitting a season-high 82.1% (23-of-28) from the line. The Brown and Gold dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Cougars 45-34, led by a career-high 13 for Mohamed Kone
(Lyon, France/Jean Paul Sartre). Berdiel pulled down eight rebounds of his own, setting a career-high on the glass for the second consecutive game. Valpo shot 43.8% from the field and hit 5-of-14 three-pointers.
Holston led the Cougars (6-18, 5-8 Mid-Con) with 16 points, all in the second half, and Parran chipped in 13. Chicago State did have 17 offensive rebounds and committed only nine turnovers on the evening.
The Crusaders (15-9, 8-6 Mid-Con) secured their tenth winning season in the last 11 years with the victory and moved within a game of third-place UMKC, who lost Thursday at Oral Roberts. The Brown and Gold close out the home portion of their schedule Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. against Niagara. Valpo's six seniors will be honored at the final home game of their careers, which will air live on WYIN 56 and WHME 46. Radio coverage on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics begins at 6:50 p.m.