Cedar City, Utah - Southern Utah raced out to a 16-point first-half lead and went on to defeat Valpo 75-58. The loss dropped the Crusaders into a four-way tie for first place in the Mid-Continent Conference.
Valpo is now tied in the loss column with Centenary, IUPUI and Oral Roberts, all of which own 9-5 Mid-Con records. Those three teams have two games remaining. The Crusaders play two non-conference games before hosting Chicago State in the Mid-Con finale on Tuesday, March 2 at 7:05 p.m.
Kenny Harris recorded his first double-double of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Dan Oppland also added 12 points and Kikas Gomes tallied his 11th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
David Palmer topped the Thunderbirds (10-15, 6-8) with 17 points. Dallas Rensch scored 15 and Jason Baker added 13 for SUU.
Southern Utah had 6-0 and 10-0 runs to lead by as many as 16 points in the first half. Palmer, Rensch and DeAngelo Newsom each scored eight points in the first 20 minutes.
The hot-shooting Thunderbirds shot 59 percent in the second half and extended their lead to as many as 21 (47-26) with 16 minutes remaining. Harris scored eight points in the second half, but Valpo could get no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
The Crusaders finished shooting 36 percent overall, including 11 percent (2-19) from 3-point range. SUU shot 52 percent overall, making 7 of 11 3-point shots.
Valpo outrebounded the Thunderbirds 45-26. The Crusaders committed 16 turnovers to nine for SUU.
Valpo, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, travels to play top five-ranked Duke on Thursday at 8 p.m. CST (9 p.m. EST) on ESPN2.