Sophomore guard Samuel Haanpää (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) drilled six 3-pointers in the first half to help stake Valparaiso to a 22-point halftime advantage, and added four more trifectas in the second half to finish with 10 for the game, breaking Crusader associate head coach Bryce Drew’s mark for 3-pointers in a single game as Valpo defeated Chicago State Saturday night, 90-61.
With the win, the Crusaders move to 10-1 on the season, continuing the team’s best start since the 1944-45 campaign. They have also won eight straight games and extended their home-court winning streak to 12 consecutive games, among the top-10 home-court streaks in the nation.
“I was really proud of the way Sam played tonight,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew. “Records are made to be broken, and it was wonderful to have Bryce there cheering him on, hoping that he would break the record.”
“It was inevitable with a shooter like Sam that he would break this record sometime during his four years here,” said Bryce Drew. “10-for-12 from behind the 3-point line is just an amazing night, and it was good to see all the hard work that he puts into his game pay off tonight.”
The Crusaders jumped out quickly, hitting seven of their first 10 shots from the field to grab a 20-10 lead just 5:31 into the ballgame. But a 9-2 spurt by Chicago State pulled the Cougars back within three points at 22-19 with 11:55 left in the opening half.
That was when Haanpää sparked a huge run by Valpo, knocking down back-to-back threes to extend the lead back up to nine points. The two triples led off a 30-6 run over the next nine minutes, a run in which six different Crusaders knocked down baskets. Haanpää hit another triple later in the run for nine points during the spurt, while the post trio of Bryan Bouchie (Washington, Ind./Washington), Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) and Calum MacLeod (Wellington, New Zealand/Hutt Valley [Northeastern J.C.]) combined for 16 points during the run.
Haanpää hit another shot from behind the arc before the break for his six first-half trifectas, helping Valpo to a 55-33 halftime advantage. Two more 3-pointers came in the first five minutes of the second half as the Crusaders pulled ahead by 28. The Cougars would not go away, cutting the lead below 20 points on two occasions in the second half, but both times Valpo responded to push the lead back above 20.
Haanpää hit his record-tying 3-pointer with 7:37 to play in the game, and followed with the record-breaker just over three minutes later, both triples coming off feeds from Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North). He capped off a 32-point night with a mid-range jumper with 2:49 left to play, the first 30-plus point scoring performance by a Crusader since Dan Oppland dropped 35 points on Western Illinois on January 14, 2006.
Haanpää was not alone on the offensive end, as three other Crusaders found double figures in the scoring column. Bouchie ended the game with 12 points, while Huff and Igbavboa each added 11 points. Igbavboa also hit all seven of his free throw attempts, giving him 16 straight makes at the charity stripe. As a team, the Crusaders connected on 50% (30-of-60) of their shots for the game, including a 57.1% (16-of-28) clip from behind the arc. McPherson led all players with eight assists as Valpo picked up 23 assists on its 30 baskets.
“I thought our offensive execution was really excellent tonight,” said Drew. “All of our players were truly unselfish and did a great job making the extra pass to get some open shots.”
Chicago State (4-9) was paced by 15 points from David Holston. Holston, who entered the game as the nation’s leader in total points scored, went just 5-of-18 from the field and just 1-of-9 from behind the arc. Mike Wilson was the only other Cougar to reach double digits, scoring 10 points.
“Defensively, Jake really did a great job on Holston tonight,” said Drew. “He, along with Jarryd and Howard, really harassed him into taking some tough shots and just did an all-around awesome job defending him. Now we get to take a 10-1 record into Wisconsin, which is an exciting opportunity for us. They are a very strong, very physical team that is always well-coached.”
Valparaiso (10-1) takes a week off before its next contest, when the Crusaders head up to Madison to take on the Badgers of Wisconsin. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m., and 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; WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell) or online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. The game will also be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network, the first of at least three nationally-televised games for the Crusaders this season.