Valparaiso held Austin Peay to just 18 second-half points Saturday on its way to a 61-47 victory in the Crusaders' final game of the South Padre Island Invitational. Samuel Haanpää (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) led Valpo with 21 points, including six 3-pointers, while Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) earned All-Tournament accolades after scoring seven key points late in the game.
“Our guys really deserved this win today,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew. “They all rose to the occasion; everyone who played made strong contributions to the win. It was a hard-fought, very physical game against an Austin Peay team that’s picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference, and I believe we played our best game of the season so far.”
Valpo jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead three minutes into the game behind two Haanpää triples, but Austin Peay answered with a 14-1 run over the next 3:48 to take a seven-point lead. The Governors held the lead for the remainder of the half, pushing the advantage to nine points at 27-18 with 5:13 left in the opening stanza. The Crusaders responded with nine straight points to tie the game, but Austin Peay hit a bucket late in the half to take a two-point lead into the intermission.
“I thought Sam did a good job getting us started offensively in the first half by hitting some shots,” said Drew. “Defensively, Shawn did a great job on Drake Reed, who was the Ohio Valley player of the year last year, only letting him get one shot off. Also, Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School) had a key steal on Austin Peay’s final possession of the half to give us a little momentum going into halftime.”
The Crusaders stepped up the defensive intensity in the second half, limiting the Governors to six field goals on 20.7% shooting from the field. APSU took the lead up to four points twice early in the second stanza, but Valpo used Haanpää’s fifth triple of the game to take the lead for good at 35-33 with 14:23 to play.
“We went to our matchup zone early on in the second half, and that was really the key on the defensive end,” said Drew. “We held Austin Peay to four baskets on 21 possessions after going to the zone. We were very strong defensively and our defensive rebounding was very good when they missed shots.”
For most of the second half, however, Austin Peay matched Valpo defensive stop for defensive stop, and the Crusaders held just a two-point lead at 49-47 with 2:45 to play in the game. That was when Huff stepped up, hitting a tough reverse layup off a feed from Jarryd Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) with 2:30 left to make it a four-point game. Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) took a charge to get Valpo the ball back, and Loyd found Huff again on Valpo’s next possession for a 53-47 lead.
Huff drilled a 3-pointer from the corner off a pass from Diebler the next time down the court to extend the lead to nine with 1:22 to play. Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) stepped up to take a charge to solidify the game for Valpo on the Governors’ next possession, and the Crusaders iced the game from the free throw line.
“I was pleased with the poise that Jarryd and Brandon showed handling the ball in the second half,” said Drew. “Austin Peay has some of the toughest pressure we’ll see all year, and we stayed aggressive and starting breaking their press late in the game to get some key baskets. I thought Shawn really stepped up and had confidence in his ability to score those seven points down the stretch.”
Haanpää set a new career best with his six triples and surpassed the 20-point barrier for the fourth time in his career. Huff added 11 points and matched his career-high with nine rebounds, while Igbavboa scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds as well.
Austin Peay (2-3) was led by Fernandez Lockett, who posted 14 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort. Wes Channels chipped in 12 points off the bench, but the Governors’ offense was limited to 33.3% (19-of-57) shooting from the field and hit just 13.0% (3-of-23) of their 3-point attempts.
The Crusaders matched their best shooting night of the season, hitting 50% (21-of-42) of their attempts from the floor, including 11 trifectas. Valpo also held a 35-28 rebounding edge over Austin Peay and registered 16 assists on 21 baskets.
Valparaiso (4-1) returns home to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Wednesday, November 28 to host Western Michigan, which is coming off a victory over #25 Davidson. The Crusaders and Broncos will tip off at 7:05 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 can be seen online through the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv or www.valpo.edu/athletics.