The Valparaiso men's basketball team scored the first 10 points of the game against Chicago State Friday evening to ensure it would lead the entire way, and then slammed the door on the Cougars with a 16-0 second-half run as the Crusaders earned a 67-46 win at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo will now take on Bethune-Cookman on Saturday night at the ARC in the finale of the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic.
Junior Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]) doubled up in his Crusader regular season debut after missing Valpo's first four games due to injury. Capobianco played 17 minutes off the bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, including six offensive boards, to earn the double-double. Capobianco was one of three Crusaders to finish in double figures, as senior Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) led the way with 15 points, while senior Kevin Van Wijk (Hoofddorp, Netherlands/Katholieke Scholengemeenschap Hoofddorp) scored 12 points, all in the second half.
Valpo would never trail on Friday, seizing control early with a 10-0 run in the first five minutes. Broekhoff canned a fast-break 3-pointer on the Crusaders' first possession, but it would take more than three minutes for the next points to hit the board. Drew went to the bench for a trio of subs, and immediately junior Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai'i]) drove for a layup to make it 5-0.
After a Chicago State miss, fifth-year senior Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) found fellow senior Matt Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville) for a 3-pointer. Then, another Cougar miss led to a fast break, one which ended when Buggs lobbed a pass for Coleman, flying down the wing in for the two-handed slam to make it 10-0 Crusaders just 4:51 into the game.
Back-to-back slams by sophomore Vashil Fernandez (Kingston, Jamaica/Princeton Day [Md.] Academy) and Coleman pushed the lead out to 16-3 with 12:51 to go in the first half. Chicago State scored the next six points, however, and Valpo's lead hovered in the high single digits for most of the remainder of the half. The Cougars moved within five at 27-22, but the Crusaders ended the half on a 7-0 run in the final 90 seconds, capped by a hanging jumper from Broekhoff in the paint as the clock dwindled down to make it 34-22 Valpo at the break.
The Crusaders pushed their lead to 16 early in the second half, scoring on each of their first two possessions on a put-back by senior Ben Boggs (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley [Virginia Tech]) and a layup by Broekhoff. But Chicago State would not go away, eventually cutting the lead to just 46-38 with 11:19 to play after a 3-pointer from Greg Tucker.
Valpo slammed the door with a 16-0 run at that point, however, over a five-minute stretch. It was the pair of international seniors who accounted for all 16 points during the spurt, as Van Wijk converted two conventional 3-point plays as well as another inside basket. Meanwhile, Broekhoff canned two 3-pointers during the run before ending it with a pair of free throws. Valpo's lead never dropped inside 21 points the rest of the way.
Boggs added nine points and Coleman eight in the balanced scoring effort for the Crusaders on Friday. Valpo won despite shooting just 39.7% (25-of-63) from the floor, including just 28.6% (6-of-21) from outside. Capobianco's 11 rebounds paced the Crusaders' 44-30 edge on the glass, as Boggs and Van Wijk chipped eight rebounds apiece. Kenney dished out seven assists without a turnover and Buggs doled out six assists as well.
Chicago State (1-4) was led by 10 points from Jeremy Robinson, the only Cougar to finish in double figures. Corey Gray added nine points and three steals.
Valparaiso (4-1) will take on Bethune-Cookman on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. for the championship of the Valparaiso round of the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic. As always, the game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network. Links for the live audio, as well as live stats, will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.