Valparaiso, Ind. - Valpo (4-4) placed four players in double figures as it defeated Belmont 83-65. Raitis Grafs led all scorers with 19 points, Stalin Ortiz tallied 13, Joaquim Gomes had 12, and Seth Colclasure added 10.
The game started off and remained close midway through the first half with the score knotted at 14 with 12:24 left. Valpo then outscored Belmont over the next six minutes to take a 32-24 lead with 6:14 remaining. This was largely due to Dan Oppland, who scored seven of his nine points and grabbed four of his six rebounds in the first half.
Grafs and Ortiz each had a strong half as well. Grafs scored 15 points and Ortiz added eight and assisted on three as the Crusaders, behind superb passing (13 assists), led Belmont at the half 42-32.
The Crusaders got off to a quick start in the second half, leading Belmont 51-36 in the first four minutes. But Belmont, which finished shooting 57 percent (12-21) from three-point territory, was able to go on a 10-0 run to cut the Valpo lead to five points.
That was as close as the Bruins could get, as Valpo's swarming defense held Belmont to just 39 percent shooting in the second half. The Crusaders finished the game strong, outscoring Belmont 32-19 to win their fourth home game of the season and 15th straight home win overall. The late surge was due in large part to Gomes, who scored all of his 12 points in the half and grabbed six boards.
Valpo shot a terrific 88 percent (14-16) from the free throw line overall, as well as 57 percent from the field (32-56). The Crusaders dished out 24 assists and turned the ball over just 10 times. Roberto Nieves added seven points and Greg Tonagel led the Crusaders with five assists. Ortiz had four assists and four steals.
Belmont (3-6) was led by Adam Mark and Adam Sonn, who scored 15 points each. Brian Collins added 14 points off the bench, which included making four of five from behind the arc.
The Crusaders will be in action again on Monday as they host Central Michigan at 7:05 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center.