Valparaiso connected on just 4-of-30 first-half shot attempts en route to a 75-55 loss to Iona in the consolation bracket at the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam on Saturday night. The Crusaders will take on La Salle in their final game at the tournament at noon CST on Monday.
The Crusaders got out to a quick start on Saturday, as freshman guard Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) drove in for a layup less than ten seconds into the game. After Valpo forced an Iona turnover, Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) connected on a 3-pointer off a feed from Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./ Tartan) to take a 5-0 lead 30 seconds in.
Iona would score the next six points, but De’Andre Haskins (Long Beach, Calif./La Lumiere [Ind.] School) regained the lead for Valpo at 7-6 just under eight minutes into the game. That was the last time the Crusaders would lead, however, as a Jonathan Huffman 3-pointer started an 8-0 spurt for Iona that gave it the lead for good.
Haskins cut the Gaels’ advantage to five points with ten minutes to play in the opening stanza with a pair of free throws, and after four straight Iona points, Igbavboa connected on a jumper to make it 18-11 Iona. The Gaels would close the first half on a 15-4 run, though, to take a 33-15 lead into the break.
The Crusaders tried valiantly to cut into the Iona lead in the second half, but could never cut the deficit below 16 points. The Gaels led by as many as 24 points, knocking down 19 second-half free throws to maintain their advantage throughout the stanza.
Haskins led the Crusaders with 19 points off the bench, but was the only Valpo player in double figures in the scoring column. Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School) shattered his previous career best for rebounds, pulling down a game-best 14 caroms, including eight on the offensive end.
Milan Prodanovic led Iona (2-1) with 19 points, including five triples, in 22 minutes off the bench. Gary Springer added 12 points, while Rashon Dwight chipped in ten points for the Gaels in the winning effort.
Valparaiso’s (2-2) contest with La Salle on Monday will be carried live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell) and online at www.valpoathletics.com.