Valparaiso took to the road for its third consecutive game Saturday afternoon, but Ball State denied the Crusaders their first victory of the trip, as the Cardinals came out on top, 61-40.
Valpo jumped out on top early, using back-to-back layups by Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) and Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) to take a 4-2 lead two minutes in. The lead would remain the same for over two minutes before Ball State got a putback from Micah Rollin to jumpstart an 11-2 run for the Cardinals.
McPherson hit a jumper to put a temporary end to the Crusader drought, but Ball State reeled off another run, this one an 8-1 run over a five-minute span to extend its lead to 12. Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) hit a 3-pointer to end the run, and hit three free throws with 1:14 to play in the half to cut the lead to 25-16. Peyton Stovall scored five quick points for the Cardinals to give them their largest lead of the first half, but Jake Diebler's (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) buzzer-beating three cut the Valpo deficit to 12 at the half.
The second half was evenly contested for the vast majority of play, as the Cardinals' lead fluctuated between 12 and 18 for the first 14 minutes of play. Igbavboa hit a basket with 8:25 to play to cut the lead to 13 at 45-32, but Ball State responded with an 8-0 run to put the game away.
Igbavboa and McPherson tied for team-high scoring honors with 10 points apiece, while Igbavboa also grabbed 10 rebounds to record his fourth double-double of the season. McPherson reached the double-digit plateau for the fourth straight game.
Four Cardinals scored at least 10 points Saturday, led by 13 apiece from Anthony Newell and Peyton Stovall. Skip Mills chipped in 12 points, while D'Andre Peyton added 11. Micah Rollin had a solid game in the post for Ball State, accounting for nine points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots.
The Crusaders struggled with their shots throughout the game, hitting just 15-of-46 (32.6%) attempts from the field, and just 3-of-13 (23.1%) from behind the arc. Ball State (4-6) outrebounded Valpo by a 36-29 margin, and forced 22 Crusader turnovers, off which they scored 17 points. The Cardinals also enjoyed a 15-2 advantage on second chance points.
Valparaiso (3-6) returns to action at the 43rd Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, HI next week. The Crusaders will kick off tournament action against Creighton Thursday night at 11:30 p.m. Central time, and will also play games on Friday and Saturday. All the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.