Calum MacLeod (Wellington, New Zealand/Hutt Valley [Northeastern J.C.]) hit a 3-pointer to put the Crusaders ahead 12 seconds in overtime, and Valparaiso never trailed in the extra session, downing UMKC 56-52 Thursday night in Kansas City, Mo.
After the Kangaroos' Dee Ayuba split a pair of free throws, Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) got a putback basket to put Valpo up 53-49. Blake Crawford hit one free throw for UMKC to cut it to a three-point game with 3:33 to play in overtime, but Igbavboa received an alley-oop pass from Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) to give Valpo a 55-50 lead.
Neither team would score for over two minutes until Quinton Day converted a layup with 54 seconds left to cut the Valpo lead to three. After the Crusaders ran down the shot clock, McPherson missed a jumper and Day had a shot from downtown to tie with 11 seconds to play. But the triple attempt was off the mark and Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) pulled down the rebound and got fouled, hitting the first free throw for the final margin.
Valpo's defense keyed the victory for the second straight game, and the effort on that end started right out of the gate, as the Crusaders held UMKC without a field goal for the first 11:48 of the ballgame. By the time Dane Brumagin hit a jumper for the Kangaroos, Valpo held a 16-6 lead, with five early points apiece from Haanpaa and MacLeod.
The Kangaroos used that bucket to springboard a 13-4 run, cutting the lead back down to one point. But the Crusaders got two baskets from Moussa Mbaye (Dakar, Senegal/Life Center [N.J.] Academy) in the waning minutes of the half, and McPherson converted a 3-point play with two seconds left to give Valpo a 27-22 halftime lead.
UMKC began the second stanza on a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the ballgame at 29-27, but the Crusaders answered with four straight points from MacLeod and never trailed again. Valpo's lead was as much as seven in the middle of the half before the Kangaroos chipped away to get back to within one possession. MacLeod hit a pair of free throws after UMKC tied the game to give Valpo a 48-46 lead with 40 seconds left, but Ayuba nailed a jumper on the Kangaroos' next possession to force the extra session.
Valpo's defense was stingy to a fault Thursday night, allowing UMKC to shoot just 32.7% (17-of-52) from the field. The 52 points allowed by the Crusaders was the fewest given up by a Valpo team in an overtime game since 1956-57 (when records started noting overtime games). The Crusaders held Day to 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting while also forcing him into six turnovers.
Igbavboa and MacLeod shared team-high scoring honors with 16 points, while Igbavboa also pulled down a game-best 14 rebounds. Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) dished out four assists without a turnover in 23 foul-plagued minutes while guarding Day.
Valpo strugged shooting the ball as well, hitting just 36.4% (20-of-55) from the field and connecting on only three 3-pointers. But the Crusaders once again were nearly perfect from the line, hitting their first 13 attempts from the charity stripe before Haanpaa's miss in the closing seconds. UMKC (7-15, 2-4 Mid-Con) hit just two 3-pointers and made 16-of-26 free throws.
Valparaiso (10-10, 4-2 Mid-Con) extends its winning streak to four games with the victory, the longest win streak of the season for the Crusaders. They will travel to Cedar City, Utah to take on Southern Utah Saturday night at 8:35 p.m. Central time. 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.