Trailing by four at halftime, Valparaiso scored 20 of the first 27 points in the second half and never looked back, defeating IUPUI Saturday night 69-55 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Crusaders started the second stanza with a quick 7-0 spurt, as a Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) 3-pointer was sandwiched by two Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) layups, giving Valpo a 35-32 lead. During that stretch, the Crusader defense forced turnovers on four of IUPUI's first seven possessions.
After an Austin Montgomery 3-point play knotted up the game at 35 at the first media timeout, Valpo ran off another 13-4 run to extend its lead to nine, capped off by back-to-back triples from
Jarryd Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) to make it a 48-39 ballgame with 10:18 to play. The Jaguars fought back, however, cutting the lead back down to four with 7:01 to play after a pair of free throws.
The Crusaders let IUPUI get no closer, though, reeling off another run, this one of the 14-1 variety, to make their lead 66-49 and ensure victory. Valpo got baskets from four different players during the run, including five points from Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) and four from Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan).
Valpo started off the game very quickly, knocking down five of its first six shots from the field to jump out to a 14-5 advantage four minutes in. IUPUI answered right back with an 8-0 spurt to cut the lead back down to one, and would take its first lead of the ballgame at the 8:35 mark on two free throws by David Barlow. The Jags extended their advantage to as many as six points at 26-20, but Valpo used Haanpaa's third 3-pointer of the opening frame to cut the halftime deficit to four at 32-28.
Haanpaa led three Valpo players in double figures with 19 points, hitting 5-of-7 3-pointers. The freshman also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds. Joining Haanpaa in double figures were McPherson, who boasted three triples on his way to 13 points, and Igbavboa, who added 12 points and six rebounds. McPherson also paced the Crusaders with four assists on just one turnover.
Gary Patterson led IUPUI (7-9, 1-2 Mid-Con) with 17 points, while David Barlow joined him in double digits with 13 points. The duo scored just 8 of their 30 points after halftime, however, as Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) played inspired defense on the two in the second half.
The Crusaders hit 16-of-24 (66.7%) second-half shots on their way to shooting 49.0% for the ballgame. Valpo was even better behind the 3-point line, draining 6-of-8 (75%) second-half attempts from beyond the arc. The Crusaders held the Jaguars to 39.1% (18-of-46) shooting for the game, including just seven second-half field goals. Valpo turned the ball over a season-low 10 times while forcing 12 IUPUI miscues.
Valparaiso (7-10, 2-2 Mid-Con) returns to the hardwood Thursday as the Crusaders travel to Macomb, Ill. for the 25th and final time in conference play to take on fellow Mid-Con charter member Western Illinois. Opening tip is set for 7 p.m., and all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City, WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.