Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) led four Crusaders in double figures with a career-best 23 points, and Valpo put together a 19-3 run in the middle of the first half to pull away from Marian, going on to a 87-56 victory Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Crusaders’ youth carried the day on Saturday, as only one upperclassman, senior Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) saw significant minutes. 81 of Valpo’s 87 points were scored by underclassmen, led by the sophomore Rogers. Freshman Cameron Witt (Launceston, Tasmania, Australia/Launceston) poured in 16 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting, while freshman Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) dropped 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Freshman De’Andre Haskins (Long Beach, Calif./La Lumiere [Ind.] School) added ten points of his own.
“Mike did a great job tonight of leading us on offense, and I thought Erik really got us going on defense and created a number of transition opportunities,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew. “Cameron played his best game to date for us as well, shooting the ball superbly and also working hard on defense and getting to the boards.”
The Knights of Marian stayed close for a few minutes, cutting their deficit to one at 9-8 just over four minutes into the game on a 3-pointer by Anthony Furlin. But just over a minute later, sophomore forward Benjamin Fumey (Bremen, Germany/Freie Hansestadt) registered a steal and converted a fast-break dunk to spark Valpo’s 19-3 spurt. Buggs led the way with six points during the run, while Witt and Rogers each registered four, the latter capping the spurt with a fast-break layup with seven minutes to play in the opening half to make it a 28-11 game.
The margin stayed in the high teens and low 20s through the remainder of the first half, as the halftime score was 43-21 in Valpo’s advantage. The Crusaders’ lead was down to as little as 15 in the early stages of the second half, and sat at 19 points at 55-36 with 14:46 to play when Valpo put together a big run to put away the contest.
Witt started the decisive run with a jumper with 14:08 remaining, two of his six points during the spurt. Haskins was the big contributor during the run, pouring in all ten of his points, including a scintillating breakaway dunk and a pair of 3-pointers. Rogers capped the run with a layup with 9:36 to play, concluding the 20-0 run that covered just four and a half minutes and putting away the game.
Fumey chipped in eight points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Logan Jones (Madison, Ind./Madison) led all players with eight rebounds. Four Crusaders each handed out four assists on the evening.
Alex Sylvester paced Marian with 16 points off the bench, while Jordan Tucker added 11 points. The Crusaders limited the Knights to just 36.4% accuracy from the floor, while shooting at a 55.9% clip themselves.
Valparaiso (1-0) returns to the ARC on Tuesday evening to host Conference USA foe Central Florida. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m., and all the action can be heard 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. The official Crusader website will also have links for live video and statistics.