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Valpo Topples Western Illinois Saturday Night

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A late 9-0 Valpo run broke open a close game and carried the Crusaders to a 76-64 win over Western Illinois Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

David Jackson's three-pointer pulled Western Illinois within one at 60-59 with 3:43 left, but the next 1:38 was all Valpo.

Ron Howard (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) started it off with a layup under the basket and put the Crusaders ahead 65-59 on a triple with 2:35 to go. After a miss on the Leatherneck end, Howard grabbed a defensive rebound and found Dan Oppland (Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) in transition for two more points. Seth Colclasure (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont) then made a steal off the inbounds pass, was fouled, and drained two free throws to extend the Crusader lead to 10, their first double-digit advantage of the game. Coclasure would make another steal off an inbounds pass moments later, sealing the win for the Brown and Gold, their third straight victory at the ARC.

Oppland finished as Valpo's leading scorer, posting his fourth double-double in conference play with 16 points and 10 boards. Mohamed Kone (Lyon, France/Jean Paul Sartre) had 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots, while Howard added 13 points and four assists. Ali Berdiel (Ponce, Puerto Rico/Andrean) was the fourth Crusader in double-figures with 10 points and seven rebounds. Colclasure had a terrific all-around game, chipping in eight points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals, matching his season-high in rebounds and steals.

Both teams sputtered offensively in the first half, with the clubs each going scoreless over a 2:20 stretch midway through the period. The Crusaders got six points and six rebounds in the first half from Kone, and went into the locker room up 32-31 despite shooting just 39.3% from the field, including 2-of-15 from three-point range.

Valpo jumped out quickly in the second half, using a 14-4 run to jump ahead 46-37 with 10:57 to go. The Leathernecks were relentless, however, getting close several times but never leading over the game's final 18:54.

The Crusaders won despite shooting 22.7% from three-point range by dominating the glass, 44-33. Valpo was especially impressive on the boards in the second half, out-rebounding WIU 25-13 and grabbing six offensive caroms. The Brown and Gold shot 47.4% from the field overall and knocked down 17-of-23 foul shots (73.9%).

Sammy Hunter led the Leathernecks (7-17, 3-10 Mid-Con) with 21 points and six rebounds. Jackson added 16, while Fred Oguns finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Western Illinois shot only 37.5% for the game and turned it over 14 times.

Valpo (14-9, 7-6 Mid-Con) returns to the hardwood Thursday night at the ARC against Chicago State. That game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. with live coverage available on WYIN 56, WHME 46, the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.

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