(Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield) posted his first double-double of the season, but the UMKC Kangaroos broke out on top early and pulled away late for a 75-62 win over Valpo Tuesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Oppland snared a season-high 11 rebounds, five offensive, and scored 19 points for the second straight game. The senior hit 9-of-18 shots, but only 1-of-6 three-pointers on another woeful night for the Crusaders from behind the arc. The Brown and Gold made just 5-of-25 triples, and have now shot a combined 16-for-80 from deep in their four losses.
(Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) had his third-straight solid game, scoring 17 points to go along with six assists and three steals. Seth Colclasure
(Decatur, Ind./Bellmont) was the only other Valpo player in double-figures, finishing with 10 points.
The Kangaroos had a 6-0 lead before two minutes had passed and led 14-4 with 15:29 to go in the first half, pushing the lead as big as 11 before back-to-back buckets by Colclasure started the Crusaders back. Two minutes later, Oppland buried a three-pointer and Valpo had their first lead of the game, 26-24, but UMKC was resilient, closing the first half on a 10-1 run to lead 34-29 at halftime.
Most of Valpo's first half offense came thanks to good pressure defense, forcing the Kangaroos, who came in averaging a league-best 12.6 turnovers, to 11 in the first twenty minutes. The most surprising statistic from the first half, and the main reason for UMKC's success, was their work on the boards. The Kangaroos came in being out-rebounded soundly by their opponents, but dominated the first half glass, holding a 22-11 edge.
The second half began with the two teams trading baskets until an Oppland hoop closed the Crusaders to 42-40 with 14:51 remaining. On the next Kangaroo trip, however, Brent Stephens put back a Dee Ayuba miss, and Valpo would never threaten again, as UMKC pulled away down the stretch and made enough late free throws to keep the hosts at bay.
The Kangaroos shot 45/1% from the floor in the game, and made an impressive 8-of-13 three-pointers (61.5%). UMKC out-rebounded Valpo 43-36 and recorded 12 steals, and shot 18 more free throws (31-13) than the Crusaders. The Brown and Gold shot 36.9% from the floor but committed only 14 turnovers.
UMKC's (4-5, 1-0 Mid-Con) Quinton Day led all scorers with 22 points and four steals, and Tim Blackwell added 14. Kalu Guasco, playing in only his second game of the season, had 12 points and five rebounds.
Valpo (5-4, 0-1 Mid-Con) got little scoring from anyone besides the three seniors in double-figures, with Jarryd Loyd's
(Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) five points next best. Shawn Huff
(Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) pulled down six rebounds, but made only 1-of-6 shots and finished with four points.
The Crusaders are back in action on the road Thursday night against Centenary. That game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. with pregame coverage on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics set for 6:45 p.m.