Valparaiso used a stifling defensive effort Monday to down IPFW in non-conference action at the Athletics-Recreation Center, 59-45.
The Mastodons' point total was the lowest by a Division I Valpo opponent since the Crusaders held Southern Utah to 44 points on January 16, 2003. Valpo held IPFW to just 34.0% (16-of-47) shooting from the field. DeWitt Scott, IPFW's leading scorer entering the game at 12.1 points per game, scored just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
The Crusaders saw their eight-point halftime lead cut to just three less than a minute into the second stanza, but answered with 10 consecutive points over a 2:40 span, capped by a Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) three-point play to extend the margin to 37-24. Valpo could muster just six points over the next 12 minutes, but held IPFW to 15 points over the same span to keep the lead at four.
After a Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) jumper moved Valpo's lead to 45-39 at the 4:17 mark, IPFW's Jaraun Burrows missed the front end of a 1-and-1. McPherson had a shot blocked, but Valpo retained possession and Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) hit a jumper in the lane to give Valpo an eight-point lead. IPFW answered with a basket of its own to make it a 47-41 ballgame, but the Crusaders let the Mastodons get no closer, hitting all 10 of their free throw attempts down the stretch to secure victory.
IPFW held the early edge out of the gate, going up on top 7-4 four and a half minutes in on a Tyler Best layup. The Crusader defense locked down the Mastodons for much of the rest of the first half, however, giving up just three points over the next 10 minutes and taking an 18-10 advantage. The lead would grow to as much as 11 in the opening frame, and Valpo went into the locker room with a 27-19 advantage.
Igbavboa paced the Crusaders with 14 points, his fourth time leading Valpo this year. Igbavboa, who hit 6-of-9 shots from the field, also corralled a game-high eight rebounds and dished out three assists. Huff joined him in double digits with 10 points, including a perfect 8-of-8 night from the charity stripe.
Best led all scorers with 15 points, but hit just 5-of-12 shots from the free throw line. Justin Hawkins drained three triples for IPFW (7-13) and finished with 10 points.
The Crusaders, who hit at just a 36.0% (18-of-50) clip for the ballgame, used advantages at the free throw line and on the boards to earn the victory. Valpo hit 18-of-19 (94.7%) attempts from the foul line, the third time this year the Crusaders have hit at better than a 90% clip on free throws, versus IPFW's mark of 8-of-19 (42.1%) from the line.
Valpo also held a 41-28 advantage on the glass. The Crusaders, who held IPFW to just five offensive rebounds, received six boards apiece from McPherson, Moussa Mbaye (Dakar, Senegal/Life Center [N.J.] Academy) and Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) to go along with Igbavboa's eight.
Valparaiso (9-10) returns to Mid-Con action with a two-game road trip this weekend. The Crusaders will take on UMKC Thursday night before traveling to Southern Utah Saturday night. Opening tip Thursday night is set for 7:05 p.m., and all the action, as always, 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.