Valpo Defeats Oakland; Crusaders Advance to Monday's Mid-Con Tournament Semifinals
Sunday, March 07, 2004
Kansas City, Mo. ? Dan Oppland scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Kikas Gomes recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds as Valpo defeated Oakland 73-64 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. The Crusaders (16-12) will play UMKC in the semifinals on Monday at 6 p.m. (Fox Sports Net). UMKC defeated Oral Roberts 86-73.

Ali Berdiel added 10 points and nine assists for Valpo. Rawle Marshall led Oakland (13-17) with 20 points and seven rebounds. Mike Helms, the leading scorer in the Mid-Con during the regular season, battled foul problems and finished with 16 points.

The Crusaders, who had the lead nearly the entire game, broke a 2-2 tie as Oppland made two layups and Gomes added a basket during a 6-0 run. The Golden Grizzlies, who began the game shooting 1-for-13, cut their deficit to two on two separate occasions ? the second with 5:01 left. Valpo then produced another 6-0 run after Gomes drained a 3-pointer and Oppland converted a basket and free throw to extend the advantage to 24-16 at the 3:31 mark.

The momentum continued for Valpo as Helms picked up his third foul and, subsequently a fourth foul after being issued a technical with Oakland trailing 24-17. Greg Tonagel made both technical foul shots and Gomes swished both free throws to give the Crusaders their largest lead (28-17) with 2:07 remaining. Marshall finished the half by scoring all 10 Oakland points during a 10-4 run as Valpo took a 32-27 halftime lead.

Roberto Nieves made a layup and Berdiel added a 3-pointer to push Valpo's lead to eight. The Golden Grizzlies trimmed the lead to 37-33 with 17:46 left before Nieves made a driving layup and a trey to restore a nine-point cushion.

After a Helms 3-pointer pulled Oakland within six, Valpo went on an 11-0 run to take its largest lead of the game (55-38) with 11:26 left. Layups by Kenny Harris and Gomes, off an assist from Berdiel, ignited the stretch that included points from five different Crusaders.

Valpo's defense, which limited Oakland to 36 percent shooting, did not allow the Golden Grizzlies to get closer than the final score. Nieves scored all nine of his points in the second half, while Berdiel added eight. The Crusaders made 58 percent of their shots, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range, in the final 20 minutes.

Overall, Valpo made 47 percent (24-51) from the floor and 74 percent (20-27) from the free throw line. Oakland struggled with its 3-point and free throw shooting, making 4-of-18 (22 percent) from beyond the arc and 10-of-22 (46 percent) from the charity stripe.

Valpo has now advanced to 10 straight Mid-Con Tournament semifinals.