Despite new career highs in scoring from Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) and Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian), Valparaiso fell to Charlotte Friday afternoon, 74-62, in the consolation bracket of the 43rd Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i.
McPherson ended the night tied for game-high honors with 24 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including a 5-of-7 clip from behind the arc. Haanpaa added 21 points of his own, 18 of which came in the first half.
The game was tied at 52 with 7:48 to play, and the Crusaders pulled within one on a pair of Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) free throws with 5:38 at 55-54. But Charlotte pulled away with a barrage of 3-pointers, nailing four triples in a five-possession span to extend the lead to nine and put the game out of reach.
The first half was a half of runs, with Valpo using a 9-0 run early to take a 14-7 lead. With the Crusader lead extended to nine at 19-10 with 10:41 left in the half, Charlotte went on a 19-3 spurt, including seven points from De'Angelo Alexander, to take a seven point lead with 4:06 to play in the half.
The Crusaders fought back before the break, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to take a lead. Alexander hit another triple with 22 seconds left in the half, but McPherson hit a runner with three seconds to play to send the game into halftime knotted up at 34.
Alexander led the 49ers with 24 points, while three other Charlotte players also reached double figures. E.J. Drayton pulled down a game-best eight rebounds for the 49ers, while Leemire Goldwire picked up four steals.
Valpo hit 45% of its shots for the game, including a 64.7% (11-of-17) clip in the first half. The Crusaders enjoyed a higher rate of success behind the arc, nailing a season-high 13 3-pointers on 27 attempts, a 48.1% clip. Valpo also matched the school record for free throw percentage in a game, hitting all 13 of its attempts from the line.
The Crusaders' downfall was turnovers, as they committed 23 miscues which Charlotte (4-6) turned into 27 points. The 49ers also enjoyed significant advantages in points in the paint (28-10) and second chance points (14-0).
Valparaiso (3-8) closes out play in the consolation bracket of the Rainbow Classic Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders take on San Francisco in the 7th place game. Opening tip is set for 3 p.m. Central time, and as always, 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.