Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Comeback Gives Valpo Win In Horizon League Opener
Brandon Wood led all players with 19 points Thursday. (Ray Acevedo)
Brandon Wood led all players with 19 points Thursday. (Ray Acevedo)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Trailing by 14 points with 7:30 to play Thursday night at UIC, Valparaiso ended the second half on an 18-4 run and then scored the first six points of overtime en route to a 68-66 victory over the Flames in the Horizon League opener for both teams.

“I'm just really proud of our basketball team with the courage, the heart and the tenacity that they displayed tonight,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew.  “I thought that Erik was really the heart and soul of our team tonight; he just didn't let us stop competing.  He's also our best defensive player on the ball, and I thought his defense on Kreps tonight was just outstanding.”

The Crusaders found themselves down 58-44 after a basket by UIC's Darrin Williams with 8:40 remaining, and then would go the next 90 seconds without scoring before senior Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School) hit a pair of free throws to start the Valpo run.  Right off the inbounds pass, sophomore Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) came up with a steal and found Little for a layup to quickly move within ten points.

After forcing an empty UIC possession, Buggs found junior Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) for a foul-line jumper to move within 58-50 with 5:40 to play.  Paul Carter hit a pair of free throws and then got a putback bucket for the Flames over UIC's next two trips, but senior Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) found Little for a layup and Wood hit a free throw to keep the Crusaders within nine points.

30 seconds later, Wood picked Robo Kreps' pocket and took the ball in himself for a quick layup to move Valpo to within 62-55 with 3:59 remaining.  Valpo then drew an offensive foul on Kreps and took advantage for a layup by freshman Jay Harris (Aurora, Ill./Oswego East) on the other end, and followed with a second-chance basket by sophomore Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) to make it a one-possession contest with 2:43 to play.

The Crusader defense stepped up, forcing an offensive foul and a turnover on the next two UIC offensive possessions, to keep it a one-possession contest in the waning minutes.  It was then Broekhoff who stepped up, knocking down a triple from the right wing with one minute left on the clock off a feed from Little to tie the game at 62-all.

Again, the defense kept the Flames from cracking the scoreboard, as Buggs drew a five-second closely guarded violation on Kreps to get Valpo the ball back with the shot clock off.  A Crusader turnover with five seconds to play gave UIC one last chance in regulation, but Broekhoff blocked Kreps' last-second 3-point attempt to send the game into overtime.

“I'm really proud of our team's effort in the second half,” said Drew.  “We did a good job making extra passes to get easy baskets.  And without those two defensive plays by Erik and Ryan, we lose the game.”

The Crusaders jumped all over the Flames at the start of overtime to take control.  Wood started with a quick post-up in the lane for an easy layin just seconds into the extra session, and the junior then finished a fast break started by Broekhoff after the latter grabbed a defensive rebound.  After another UIC miss, Wood found Johnson inside for a reverse layup to put Valpo ahead 68-62 with 3:42 to play in overtime.

“That was a great start to the overtime period for us,” said Drew.  “We made some great passes to get six quick points.  I thought both defenses throughout played with an incredible level of intensity, and we were able to get stops early in overtime to help us get that lead.”

While the Crusaders couldn't find another bucket in overtime, their defense held UIC to just two baskets in the extra session.  Carter nailed a jumper with 2:12 remaining to bring the Flames back within four, and then a putback by Brad Birton moved UIC within 68-66 with 56 seconds to play.  The Flames had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead on the final possession with the shot clock off, but Valpo forced a tough effort in the lane from Zavion Neely that rolled harmlessly off the win as the Crusaders opened the league season with a victory.

Valpo's only lead prior to overtime came at 1-0 a minute into the ballgame, as UIC went on a 9-1 spurt after the Crusaders scored the game's opening point.  The Crusaders trailed by as much as 14 points in the opening 20 minutes and went into halftime down 36-24 after hitting just 9-of-25 (36.0%) from the floor and 2-of-11 (18.2%) from 3-point range in the first half.

UIC scored the first basket of the second half to again go up 14, but the Crusaders answered with a quick 8-0 run.  Little started the spurt with a free throw and then came up with a steal and layup, while Johnson later added an old-fashioned 3-point play.  A layup by Broekhoff with 17:15 remaining in the second half cut the deficit to 38-32, but six points was as close as Valpo would get until the late charge.

Valpo was led by 19 points from Wood, who scored 14 of his game-high points in the final 25 minutes.  Wood also grabbed a team-high six rebounds on the evening.  Johnson scored 15 points, Little 12 and Broekhoff added 10 as four Crusader starters finished in double figures.  Broekhoff and Buggs each tied for game-high honors with four assists, while the former also blocked a pair of shots.

UIC (4-4, 0-1 Horizon) was paced by 18 points from Carter.  Birton added 11 points and Neely chipped in 10 points in the losing effort.  Kreps, who entered the game as the Flames' leading scorer, was hounded all night by the Crusader defense and was held to just 1-of-13 shooting while also committing eight turnovers.

Valparaiso (5-2, 1-0 Horizon) looks for a road sweep to begin Horizon League play as the Crusaders travel to Loyola Saturday afternoon.  Tipoff is set for 3 p.m., and all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City) or seen live on Lakeshore Public Television.  Links for live audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.

M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25 UIC
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana