Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Valpo Captures 8th Mid-Con Tournament Championship; Second-Half Comeback Sinks IUPUI

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Kansas City, Mo. - Kikas Gomes scored 23 points, including 18 in the second half, as Valpo came back from a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat IUPUI 75-70 to capture its 8th Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Championship. The Crusaders (18-12) advance to their 7th NCAA Tournament. Valpo won both the regular season and tournament titles for the 7th time.

The Crusaders made 5-of-6 free throws and came away with a key steal in the final 26 seconds to secure the win.

Gomes, Dan Oppland and Ali Berdiel were each named to the All-Tournament Team.

Berdiel tallied 16 points and six assists, Roberto Nieves added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Oppland contributed 10 points. Odell Bradley, who was named tournament MVP, led IUPUI (21-11) with 26 points and eight rebounds. Matt Crenshaw added 18 points and Brandon Cole had 13 for the Jaguars.

After trailing for most of the game and by eight with 7:18 left, Valpo went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 60-60 with 6:08 remaining. Gomes was fouled on a thunderous dunk and made the free throw before Jimmie Miles swished a 3-pointer from the corner to bring the Crusaders within two. Gomes added another sensational dunk off an assist from Berdiel to force the first tie since the early going.

Crenshaw made a driving layup, but Oppland made a short jumper to tie the contest at 62-62 at the 4:24 mark. The Crusaders took their first lead (64-62) with 3:37 left when Berdiel hooked up with Nieves on an alley-oop basket. Valpo completed a 6-0 run with Berdiel's two free throws to extend the lead to 66-62 with 2:01 left.

IUPUI, who defeated Valpo 66-64 in last season's Mid-Con title game on Crenshaw's last-second shot, kept the pressure on with two Akeem Clark free throws.

Gomes, who averaged 18 points in the three-game tourney, converted an offensive rebound putback before Crenshaw hit a short jumper to cut Valpo's lead to 68-66 with 1:05 remaining.

Oppland responded with a layup, but Crenshaw dropped in two free throws to trim the lead to 70-68 at the 28-second mark. With IUPUI forced to foul, Oppland netted two charity tosses prior to Bradley's jumper.

With Valpo leading 72-70, sixth-year senior Greg Tonagel made two free throws with 18 seconds left to expand the lead to 74-70. Berdiel and Tonagel then pressured Crenshaw into a turnover as Tonagel came away with a steal. Berdiel split a pair of free throws with four seconds left.

Nieves, who made three, 3-pointers overall, and Oppland each scored eight points in the decisive second half. Both teams shot the ball effectively in the final 20 minutes, each making 54 percent from the floor.

In the first half, IUPUI made 5-of-12, 3-point shots and led by as many as 12 with 4:33 remaining. Valpo ended the half with an 8-2 run to close the halftime gap to 35-29 as Berdiel and Gomes each made 3-pointers during the stretch. Cole made three treys for 11 first-half points and Bradley added 10.

The Crusaders shot 43 percent overall, including 8-of-18 (44 percent) from beyond the arc. Led by Bradley's 11-of-21 shooting, IUPUI finished with a 47 percent mark, including 6-of-18 from 3-point territory.

Kenny Harris tied Nieves for team-high rebounding honors (7) as Valpo outrebounded IUPUI 37-33. Second-chance points played a significant factor as Valpo outscored IUPUI 22-7 on extra possessions. The Crusaders won the turnover battle, committing nine to 11 for the Jaguars.

Valpo made 71 percent (15-of-21) of its free throw attempts to 64 percent (14-of-22) for IUPUI.

The NCAA Tournament appearance will be Valpo's first since 2002. Valpo has played IUPUI in the Mid-Con Tournament title game in each of the last three years. The Crusaders won 88-55 in 2002.

For the first time in school history, both the Valpo men's and women's basketball teams claimed Mid-Con Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament berths in the same season. The Crusaders' women's team defeated Oral Roberts 64-63 to win its second straight conference tourney championship and NCAA berth.

The University will host an NCAA Tournament Pairings Party on Sunday beginning at 3 p.m. in the ARC.



W Golf IPFW Spring Invitational Fort Wayne, Ind. (Chestnut Hills G.C.)
Apr 6 4th/12 (311)
W Tennis Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 6 Milwaukee 7
Softball Detroit 0 VU Softball Field
Apr 6 Valpo 8
Baseball Wright State 4 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 6 Valpo 2
W Golf IPFW Spring Invitational Fort Wayne, Ind. (Chestnut Hills G.C.)
Apr 7 9th/12 (642)
Softball Northern Illinois 6 VU Softball Field
Apr 8 Valpo 8
Baseball Valpo 5 Evanston, Ill.
Apr 8 Northwestern 12
Softball Northern Illinois 3 8 inn.
Apr 8 Valpo 4
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
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
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17, 3:00 p.m. Milwaukee
M Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 11:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18, 3:00 p.m. Milwaukee
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 18, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
W Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19
W Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19, 1:00 p.m. Milwaukee
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 5:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
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
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26 Horizon League Tournament
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
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State