The Mid-Con leading IUPUI Jaguars quickly opened a double-digit lead in the second half and held on late for a 75-67 win Thursday night at the IUPUI Gymnasium in Indianapolis, Ind.
The Jaguars came roaring out of the locker room, getting back-to-back buckets from Hill and quickly extending a five-point halftime lead to 43-32, the first double-digit lead for either team in the game. The edge would grow as big as 12, but the Crusaders stormed back, with Ron Howard
(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) supplying seven points in a 9-0 run to bring Valpo within 48-45.
But that would be as close as the Brown and Gold would get, with IUPUI extending the margin back to nine, 61-52, on a Brandon Cole three-pointer with 7:10 left. David Barlow finally finished the Crusaders off with one minute left, hitting a driving layup to extend the Jaguar lead to 70-61.
Neither team could find an offensive rhythm in the early going, with the Crusaders and Jaguars trading the lead back and forth through the first 12 minutes of the game. Valpo started off especially sluggish, making only six of their first 15 shots, and misfiring on their first four attempts from three-point range. IUPUI was no better, knocking down only five of their first 16 from the floor.
The two teams would get hot later in the half, but both seemingly made or missed on alternating possessions, with the lead trading hands ten times in the first twenty minutes before IUPUI scored the last six points of the half to go into the locker room up 37-32. Ali Berdiel
(Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean) led Valpo with nine points in the first, while George Hill paced the Jaguars with 12.
Howard finshed with 22 points to pace the Crusaders, the fourth time this season he's scored at least 20. Mohamed Kone
(Lyon, France/Jean Paul Sartre) chipped in 14 points for the Crusaders and added seven rebounds. Berdiel was the only other Crusader in double-figures, finishing with 15 points. Valpo shot 40.6% from the field and knocked down only 6-of-23 three-pointers, their worst shooting night from beyond the arc since December 27. IUPUI out-rebounded the Crusaders 42-38. The Brown and Gold did commit only seven turnovers, a season low.
(Saint Louis, Mo.) finished with eight points, the first point in nearly one calendar year he was held below double-figures. It was the Jaguars who held Oppland to eight points February 12 of the last season, the last time he failed to score at least 10 points, a streak of 28 straight games. Oppland did, however, lead the Crusaders in rebounding with a season-high 12.
Hill led the Jaguars (16-7, 11-1 Mid-Con) with 26 points and Cole posted an impressive 21-point, 11-rebound double-double. IUPUI hit 42.9% of their shots ad made 8-of-16 three-pointers. The Jaguars won for the first time ever over the Crusaders in Indianapolis.
The Crusaders (13-9, 6-6 Mid-Con) open a three-game homestand Saturday at 7:05 p.m. against Western Illinois on Hall of Fame Night. Valpo's eight-member Hall of Fame class of 2006 will be honored during the game, with pregame coverage on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics beginning at 6:50 p.m.