Valparaiso allowed Centenary no field goals over the final 11:08 of the first half and closed the opening stanza on a 23-4 run on its way to an easy 68-50 victory Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The win marks the Crusaders' 200th victory all-time at the ARC.
The Gents went a total of 11:53 spanning the two halves without a field goal, marking the third time in the last four games that the Crusaders have held their opponent without a field goal for at least 11 minutes. UMKC did not hit a shot from the field until 11:48 into the game on Thursday, Jan. 25, and Valpo held Oral Roberts without a field goal for the final 11:05 of the matchup this past Thursday night.
Centenary's last field goal of the first half came via an Alexander Starr 3-pointer, cutting the Valpo advantage to 17-10. Two possessions later, Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) drained a triple for Valpo, and after two free throws by the Gents, the Crusaders went to work on their run.
Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) dropped 11 points for the Crusaders during the 23-4 run, including three monster dunks. Six other Crusaders scored during the half-closing spurt, while the Valpo defense held Centenary to 0-for-11 shooting from the field over the span, helping to give the Crusaders a 43-16 halftime edge. Valpo extended the lead to as much as 35 in the second half before the Gents went on a late run to get as close as 16.
Haanpaa (13) and Igbavboa (11) each reached double figures in the first half, with Haanpaa ending the game as Valpo's leading scorer with 20 points. Igbavboa added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) chipped in 11 points and Jarryd Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) scored 10 for the second straight game. Huff and Moussa Mbaye (Dakar, Senegal/Life Center [N.J.] Academy) tied for team-high honors with eight rebounds apiece, while Loyd dished out five assists.
No Centenary (7-17, 1-8 Mid-Con) player reached double figures, with three Gents scoring eight points apiece. Alexander Starr led all players with nine rebounds to go along with his eight points.
The Crusaders shot the ball at a 52.1% (25-of-48) clip for the game, including 45% (9-of-20) from behind the arc. Valpo held the Gents to 27.3% (15-of-55) shooting, the lowest field goal percentage by a Valpo opponent this season. The Crusaders held a 42-33 advantage on the glass, and dished out 17 assists. 11 of Valpo's 17 assists came in the opening half, versus just one turnover over the same span.
Valparaiso (12-11, 6-3 Mid-Con), winners of six of its last seven games, step out of conference play Monday to take on former Mid-Con foe Chicago State in the Windy City. The 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.