Saturday, November 22, 2003
Milwaukee, Wis. - Roberto Nieves led four Crusaders in double-figures with 17 points and Valpo drained 11, 3-pointers in a 75-70 loss to #23-ranked Marquette in the championship game of the Pepsi Blue & Gold Classic.
Ali Berdiel added 12 points and a career-high 10 assists, Dan Oppland added 11 points and nine boards and Kikas Gomes scored 11 for the Crusaders (1-1).
Berdiel, Gomes and Oppland were named to the all-tournament team.
Travis Diener, who earned tournament MVP honors, led the Golden Eagles (3-0) with 26 points and nine assists. Scott Merritt added 16 points and 10 rebounds inside the paint.
Valpo raced out to an 11-0 lead in the first three minutes. Marquette, behind Diener, chipped away at its deficit and trailed by four (34-30) at halftime.
Hot shooting from 3-point range allowed Valpo to hold a lead for most of the game. Nieves made four of seven treys, while Berdiel and Jimmie Miles netted two each.
After Marquette grabbed a three-point second half lead, Miles helped ignite a comeback with five straight points to give Valpo a two-point lead. The freshman finished with eight points before fouling out with over five minutes left.
Marquette's inside presence proved to be a difference, outrebounding the Crusaders 37-24, including a 13-7 edge in offensive boards.
The Crusaders had an opportunity to trim a three-point deficit, but missed four free throws in the final minute. Valpo finished 5 of 12 from the charity stripe.
Valpo shot 48 percent overall (27 of 56), including 52 percent (11 of 21) from 3-point land. Marquette finished shooting 51 percent (29 of 57), including 29 percent (5 of 17) from beyond the arc.
The Crusaders open their home season on Tuesday by hosting South Florida at 7 p.m. CST.