GAME NOTES: A couple of teams that had to travel to Nevada to log their first wins away from home this season get after each other today, as the Valparaiso Crusaders clash with the Islanders of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as part of the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena.
In the case of the Islanders, they arrived in Sin City riding a four-game slide following their season-opening win over Northeastern State. Each of their setbacks had come by at least a dozen points, but on Friday afternoon the squad turned the tables on Bethune-Cookman and came up with a 69-65 triumph.
As for the Crusaders, they had dropped two of their previous three outings before taking the floor at Orleans Arena yesterday, but against Northern Colorado the team was able to take down the Bears in a 76-61 final.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, Valparaiso holds a 2-0 advantage with the most recent of those triumphs coming in 2000 when the Crusaders posted a 94-72 win at home.
Valpo bounced back from a woeful shooting effort in the first half when the squad made just six total field goals and 1-of-11 behind the three-point line, to capture the double-digit win against UNC. The Crusaders made good on an impressive 65.2 percent from the floor after the break and an even better 9- of-11 beyond the arc to seal the deal. Howard Little delivered a team-best 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting out on the perimeter, while Ryan Broekhoff and Matt Kenney contributed 15 and 11 points, respectively. Broekhoff, someone who can get hot behind the three-point line, has already made 12-of-26 attempts out on the perimeter this season, leading to this team-best 15.6 ppg. Brandon Wood is responsible for another 14.2 ppg, but unlike his counterpart he is not only having a hard time shooting from distance at just 27.6 percent, his field goal shooting overall is just 36.6 percent accurate at the moment.
Trailing by as many as 10 points midway through the first half, the Islanders bounced back against Bethune-Cookman on Friday by shooting 60 percent from the field and 9-of-12 at the free-throw line after the break to grab the victory over the Wildcats. Demond Watt recorded a huge double-double for the Islanders with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Not to be outdone, Justin Reynolds posted a double-double of his own with 10 points and 13 boards as well. Garland Judkins chipped in 11 points in just 16 minutes of action. Watt, a 57.6 percent shooter from the floor in the early going this season, is not only putting up a team-best 16.3 ppg, he is also first on the team in rebounds (10.8 rpg), assists (11) and blocked shots (nine) which means he should plenty of attention from the Valpo defense today. Terence Jones checks in with 10.5 ppg as the only other double-digit scorer for the program right now.
Of course Valpo is the more recognizable name in this matchup, but the Crusaders have to be careful that they don't fall sleep on the Islanders because they do have a decent inside presence that could cause Valparaiso some problems.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 64, Valparaiso 62
11/27 10:57:05 ET
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