(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) 13-point, 10-rebound double-double helped Valpo avenge an earlier loss and down the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 76-64 Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center in front of 4,080 fans.
Howard matched a career-high with the 10 rebounds and also had four assists in 31 strong minutes. Southern Utah beat Valpo 73-61 on January 21 in Cedar City. Dan Oppland
(Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) led the Crusader offense with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, the 11th time he's scored at least 20 points this season and the 28th straight game the senior's been in double-figures.
Valpo raced out to an early 19-6 lead, using a 15-0 run over a nearly eight minute span to surge in front. The Thunderbirds would get within four late in the half, but never again led in the game and went into the locker room down 34-28.
Southern Utah turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, leading to 12 Valpo points, but held a 17-13 advantage on the glass. Oppland had 12 first half points to lead all scorers, while Henry Uhegwu paced the Thunderbirds with 10.
SUU scored the first two points of the second half to again close to within four, but a three-pointer from Ali Berdiel
(Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean) put the Brown and Gold in front 43-33 with 17:25 left in the game. The two teams traded baskets from there on out, with the Crusaders' lead never getting bigger than 13 or smaller than seven the rest of the night.
Berdiel finished with 13 points and four assists, draining a pair of three-pointers, and Seth Colclasure
(Decatur, Ind./Bellmont) reached double-figures for the eighth time in nine games, hitting 4-of-7 field goals to finish with 10 points. Mohamed Kone
(Lyon, France/Jean Paul Sartre) paced the Crusaders in blocks and steals with three of each.
The Brown and Gold matched a season-low with nine turnovers and forced 18 from the Thunderbirds. Valpo shot 50.9% from the field, the fourth straight night they've hit at least half of their shot attempts, made 6-of-11 three-pointers, and hit 12-of-16 free throws.
Southern Utah (7-16, 5-5 Mid-Con) made 50.0% of their field goal attempts and out-rebounded the Crusaders 29-28, but were done in by the 18 turnovers, leading to 22 Valpo points. Henry Uhegwu was the only Thunderbird in double-figures, finishing with a game-high 21 points.
Valpo (13-8, 6-5 Mid-Con) moves into fourth place in the conference with the win, and has five days off before heading down to Indianapolis to take on IUPUI Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. That game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics beginning at 5:50 p.m.