Valparaiso struggled with shooting the ball Wednesday night and fell to its second ranked opponent in three nights, dropping a 60-47 decision to #19/18 Butler at the ARC.
The Crusaders hit just 28% of their shots in the first half and ended the game hitting at a 39.1% clip. After hitting 8-of-10 3-pointers in the second half Monday against Marquette, they couldn't find their touch from behind the arc, shooting a meager 17.6% from downtown.
The Bulldogs jumped on top early, holding an 11-4 lead at the first media timeout. But the Crusaders went on an 8-3 spurt to close within two, and were still within two with 9:25 left in the half after a Jarryd Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) layup at 16-14.
The rest of the first half went Butler's way, as the Bulldogs got nine points from Mike Green in the midst of a 16-3 run to close the first half with a 32-17 advantage. Green led all scorers in the first half with 11 points and ended the game with 16. Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) led Valpo in the first half with six points.
Valparaiso cut the lead to as little as 11 points after a layup by Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) with 11:49 to play, but Butler (8-0) responded with a 15-6 run to open up to its largest lead of the game at 53-33. The Crusaders again rallied, knocking the lead down to 11 with 1:11 to play, but could not get the deficit back into single digits.
Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) led the Crusaders with 14 points, 10 in the second half, while Loyd was the only other Valpo player in double-figures, with 10. Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) led all players with seven rebounds, while Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) dished out four assists and had four steals.
Valparaiso (3-3) will take on the top-ranked team in the nation for the third consecutive season, as the Crusaders travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on #3/1 Ohio State Saturday. Tip is set for 3 p.m. Central time, and all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Saturday's game will also be broadcast live locally on Lakeshore Public Television.