Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Valpo Drops 77-57 Decision at Akron Sunday Afternoon
Brandon Wood led Valpo with 18 points. (Ray Acevedo)
Brandon Wood led Valpo with 18 points. (Ray Acevedo)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Valparaiso trailed by just nine with the ball in the early stages of the second half Sunday afternoon at Akron, but the Zips scored the next 14 points to take control as the Crusaders fell by a 77-57 count.

Akron threatened to take a large lead early, running out to an 11-3 advantage just 4:30 into the ballgame, but the Crusaders replied right back.  A quick 6-0 spurt was started by a layup from Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School) and Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) followed with a free throw and 3-pointer over the next two minutes to cut the lead back down to two points.  The lead remained in the single digits for most of the first half and the Crusaders trailed by just six at 29-23 with 3:08 to play in the stanza thanks in large part to nine points by Wood and five points from Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport).

“Akron is a very experienced team that went to the NCAA Tournament last year and is picked to win their division of the MAC this year,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew.  “They also have gotten the chance to play a number of home games already, and I think that all showed early as they jumped out to the lead on us.  I was really proud of the way we came back to make it a close game late in the first half.”

But over the last three minutes of the half, Valpo went just 0-for-1 with three turnovers on the offensive end while Akron connected on three shots in a 7-0 run, including a Brett McKnight layup in the waning seconds, to end the opening 20 minutes with the score 36-23.

“That run was really the key point in the game,” said Drew.  “We gave up a couple offensive rebounds during that stretch that Akron converted on, and instead of going into the half within six points, we’re down 13.”

The second half got off to a good start for Valpo, as Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) got loose for a layup on the opening possession and Wood followed with a steal and fast-break dunk to bring the deficit back down to nine points.  Tommy Kurth (Osceola, Ind./Penn) registered a steal on the next defensive trip to give the Crusaders a chance to cut the margin down to seven or six points, but a turnover ended that opportunity and started Akron’s big run.

Over the next three minutes, the Crusaders committed three turnovers while also missing three shots, while the Zips took full advantage, scoring on six of their eight possessions in the same span.  Chris McKnight connected on Akron’s final two baskets of the run, giving the Zips a 50-27 lead with 15:19 to play.  Valpo continued to fight and got the deficit back down to 16 points late in the second half, but could get no closer.

“We really came out well in the second half, putting together good offensive and defensive possessions to get back within nine,” said Drew.  “But Akron started to go inside to their strength again to pull away.”

Wood led the Crusaders with 18 points, while Johnson added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.  Wood also paced Valpo in the rebounding department with five boards, as the Crusaders got outrebounded by a 33-22 clip.  As a team, Valpo shot 45% from the floor, but committed 18 turnovers leading to 27 Akron points.

Jimmy Conyers led all players with 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting for the Zips, while Brett McKnight seconded Conyers with 18 points for Akron (9-3).  Akron connected on 55.4% of its shot attempts and enjoyed significant advantages over the Crusaders in both points in the paint (38-22) and second-chance points (16-2).

“Akron had taller, stronger players up front, but we’ve got to find a way to rebound the basketball better,” said Drew.  “Giving up 13 offensive rebounds is just too many, especially when you consider they ended up with 16 second-chance points.  The good news is that we get to come home now for a party at the ARC on New Year’s Eve.”

Valparaiso (5-8) returns to the court on New Year’s Eve as the Crusaders open the heart of the Horizon League schedule with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against Milwaukee.  As always, the game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso) and can be seen on the Horizon League Network,  Valpo’s athletic website, www.valpoathletics.com, will have links for live audio, video and statistics.

W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. #21/21 Notre Dame
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
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Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
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Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 4
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 4
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 4, 12:00 p.m. Green Bay
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 4, 12:00 p.m. Valpo