Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Stifling Defense Propels Valpo Past UMKC & Into Mid-Con Tournament Championship Game

Monday, March 10, 2003

Kansas City, Mo. – Valpo limited UMKC to 33 percent shooting and defeated the Kangaroos 71-50 in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Semifinals. Raitis Grafs led Valpo with 19 points and Stalin Ortiz added 16. The Crusaders (20-9), who advanced to their ninth straight Mid-Con Tournament title game, will play IUPUI on Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

Valpo has won 20-or-more games in nine of the last 10 years. The Crusaders have also won 22 of their last 23 Mid-Con Tournament games from 1995-03.

Against Valpo’s staunch defense, UMKC (9-20) scored just 15 points in the first half, making 6-of-26 field goal attempts (23 percent). The Crusaders made 10 of their 15 steals in the first 20 minutes, scoring 16 points off of 11 Kangaroo turnovers. Ali Berdiel, who tied his career-high with nine assists, made three of his four steals in the first half. Ortiz led a balanced attack with 10 points as Valpo held a 33-15 halftime lead.

Valpo took control of the game with a 13-0 run midway through the first half. With the score tied at 11-11 with 10:05 left, consecutive 3-pointers by Ortiz and Roberto Nieves ignited the stretch which extended the lead to 24-11 with 5:57 remaining. Three straight layups by Dan Oppland, Antti Nikkila and Ortiz highlighted a 7-0 run to end the first half.

Hot 3-point shooting helped UMKC trim Valpo’s lead to 11 on two separate occasions in the second half. Michael Watson scored eight points, which included two treys, and Javon Clark drained two 3-pointers during a 16-7 Kangaroo run that cut UMKC’s deficit to 42-31 with 15:48 left.

Valpo answered the UMKC surge as Grafs and Ortiz swished 3-pointers during a 10-0 run to expand the advantage to 52-31 with 12:37 left. Grafs scored five more points over the next six minutes and the Crusaders increased their lead to 27 points (62-35) – the largest of the game – at the 6:01 mark.

Inside dominance proved to be a major difference as Valpo outscored UMKC 34-8 in the paint and won the rebounding battle 39-25. Nieves led Valpo with eight rebounds and Oppland grabbed seven. Valpo finished shooting 51 percent (27-53) overall. Greg Tonagel made a career-high five steals and Ortiz dished out five of Valpo’s 22 assists (on 27 baskets).

Watson, who scored 34 points in UMKC’s Mid-Con Quarterfinal win over Oral Roberts, led the Kangaroos with 21 points.

The Mid-Con Championship on Tuesday is a rematch of last year’s title game, which Valpo won 88-55. This season, Valpo won both meetings against IUPUI. The Crusaders were on the front end of a 72-62 score on Jan. 23 in Indianapolis and also defeated the Jaguars 77-71 on Feb. 22 to clinch their eighth Mid-Con regular season title.

Softball Northern Illinois 6 VU Softball Field
Apr 8 Valpo 8
Baseball Valpo 5 Evanston, Ill.
Apr 8 Northwestern 12
Softball Northern Illinois 3 8 inn.
Apr 8 Valpo 4
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19, 1:00 p.m. Milwaukee
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 5:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26 Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo