Valparaiso, Ind. - Valpo's Jimmie Miles scored a career-high 22 points, but Charlotte placed five players in double figures on its way to an 85-71 victory in the Crusaders' home opener.
Brendan Plavich led Charlotte with 21 points, draining seven of nine from 3-point range. A senior, Plavich made six of eight treys and netted 18 of his points in the first half.
The teams were tied three times and traded the lead once each in the first half. The 49ers (2-1) took the lead with 7:16 left in the first half and held it the rest of the game. A 9-3 run during a two-minute stretch late in the first half extended Charlotte's advantage to 45-35 with 2:39 remaining. Two 3-pointers by Plavich keyed the run.
Valpo (0-3) pulled within six (46-40) on two free throws by Dan Oppland and one by Miles, but Plavich hit another trey and Leemire Goldwire swished a jumper at the buzzer to give Charlotte a 51-42 lead at intermission.
Miles, who made eight of 14 shots overall, scored 14 in the first 20 minutes, hitting three of four from beyond the arc. Freshman Jarryd Loyd, who received his first start, dished out seven of his career-high nine assists before halftime.
In the second half, the Crusaders outscored the 49ers 12-8 in the first 4:44 to pull within 59-54 on Moussa Mbaye's foul line jumper. Plavich answered with another 3-pointer and Mitchell Baldwin added a fast-break dunk to push the Charlotte lead to 10 (64-54) with 13:32 remaining.
Valpo cut its deficit to eight with 6:40 left, but Charlotte held at least a 10-point lead the remainder of the contest. E.J. Drayton came off the bench to score 12 of his 15 points in the second half for Charlotte.
Oppland added 12 points for Valpo, while Kenny Harris tallied 10 and a team-high eight rebounds. Mbaye scored a career-high eight points.
Curtis Withers scored 16 points for Charlotte, while Baldwin netted 11 and Eddie Basden had 10 points, seven assists and four steals. Chris Nance led the 49ers with eight boards.
Charlotte shot 53 percent overall (30-57), including 69 percent (9-13) from 3-point territory. Valpo finished shooting 42 percent overall, including 39 percent (5-13) from behind the 3-point stripe. The Crusaders converted 76 percent (16-21) of their free throws, while Charlotte made 67 percent (16-24).
Valpo outrebounded Charlotte 34-32 as the Crusaders have won the battle of the boards in each of their first three games. The Crusaders committed 17 turnovers to 14 for the 49ers.
Valpo hosts Duke on Saturday at Chicago's United Center beginning at 1 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.