Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Valpo Handles Penguins Easily Friday Night
Cory Johnson led all players with 26 points Friday. (Ray Acevedo)
Cory Johnson led all players with 26 points Friday. (Ray Acevedo)

Friday, January 07, 2011

A game-high 26 points from fifth-year senior Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) led the charge Friday evening as Valparaiso opened home Horizon League play with a solid 79-55 victory over Youngstown State at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

“I thought that, in the second half, our players did a wonderful job,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew.  “Erik and Howard really set a good, aggressive tone on the defensive end to start the half and we were able to put together a big run to give us a comfortable lead.”

Johnson went 10-of-16 from the floor, including a pair of rim-rattling dunks, and also connected on 6-of-7 from the charity stripe for his second-best scoring output of the year.  The senior has now scored in double figures in seven straight contests and leads the Crusaders on the year with 16.5 ppg.

Johnson got plenty of help Friday evening though, as redshirt junior Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) also surpassed his average, finishing the night with 17 points.  Wood also pulled down seven rebounds, handed out a game-best four assists and also came up with three steals.  Meanwhile, senior Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School), who entered Friday night second in the league in field goal percentage, hit five of his seven shots attempts to score 10 points, rounding out the trio of starters in double figures.

It was a quick start on both ends of the court for the Crusaders Friday, as after surrendering five points in the game’s first 1:27, Valpo would not give up a point to YSU for seven and a half minutes.  The defensive effort sparked an 11-0 run which gave the Crusaders a double-digit lead at 15-5 just over seven minutes into the game.  Wood and Johnson combined for nine points during the spurt, while Little capped it with a fast-break layup off a long outlet feed from senior Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian).

The Penguins wouldn’t go away that easily, scoring the next eight points to move right back within two points as the Crusaders went scoreless for over five straight minutes.  YSU eventually tied the contest at 20 with 5:15 to go in the half on a triple by Ashen Ward, but freshman Jay Harris (Aurora, Ill./Oswego East) answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 10-2 spurt that pushed Valpo’s lead back to eight points, and the Crusaders eventually took a 34-29 edge into the locker room.

Valpo erased almost all doubt about the game’s eventual outcome out of the halftime break, starting the second stanza on a 20-4 run over the first seven minutes.  Wood scored the first two baskets of the half within the first 65 seconds, and also had a baseline one-handed slam off a feed from Johnson a couple minutes later.  Wood then reciprocated on the fast break with a slick behind-the-back pass to Johnson for a slam on the next possession.  Little and Wood each had six points apiece in the run, while Johnson added four points and Rogers also converted a pair of layups for four points as well.

“It was huge to put together that run out of the locker room,” said Drew.  “It gave us a double-digit lead, which we never gave up after that.  Brandon and Cory really saw the floor well during that stretch, and the whole team execute well, made good passes and got good shots.”

Youngstown State (6-8, 1-4 Horizon) had one last burst left, as Blake Allen hit three 3-pointers in a span of 1:38 approaching the halfway mark of the stanza to push the Penguins back into the game.  A fast-break layup by Devonte Maymon with 10:34 to play cut the Crusader edge to 56-44, but YSU connected on just two field goal attempts over a nearly seven-minute stretch immediately following as Valpo pulled away.

Johnson scored six points, including a thunderous one-handed dunk while being fouled, during the last big Valpo run, while sophomore Kevin Van Wijk (Hoofddorp, Netherlands/Katholieke Scholengemeenschap Hoofddorp) added four points and sophomore Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) capped the 15-5 run with a 3-pointer with 4:08 to go to put Valpo ahead 71-49.  Junior Cameron Witt (Launceston, Tasmania, Australia/Launceston) made his season debut in the final three minutes and scored Valpo’s last two baskets, the second of which capped the scoring and gave the Crusaders their largest lead and the final margin.

For the fourth time in the last five games, Valpo connected on better than half its shots, going 32-of-59 (.542) from the floor.  Even when the Crusaders missed, they gathered half the available rebounds, securing 14 offensive boards and converting into 15 second-chance points.  The effort on the offensive glass mirrored the output on the other end, as the Crusaders out-rebounded Youngstown State 47-24, led by a Valpo season-high 10 rebounds from Broekhoff.  The Crusaders also dominated the points in the paint, out-scoring YSU 52-20 inside.

“It was big for us to be able to out-rebound them by 47-24,” said Drew.  “Ryan really did a great job on the defensive glass to grab 10 rebounds, really worked hard along with his teammates to hold Youngstown State to just one shot.”

Youngstown State was led by 17 points from Allen, who hit 5-of-6 from behind the 3-point line.  Damian Eargle was the only other Penguin in double figures, scoring 15 points while also grabbing eight rebounds and blocking four shots.  Valpo held Vytas Sulskis, who entered the game averaging 15.5 ppg, to just six points on 2-of-7 shooting Friday.

Valparaiso (11-5, 3-1) is now tied for first place in the loss column and welcomes one of the teams it’s tied with, Cleveland State, to the ARC for a Sunday afternoon matinee.  All the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live video and live stats.

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
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 Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
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
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W 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
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M 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)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
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