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Morning drive: Valpo men roll over NIU in ESPN Tip-Off game

VU junior guard Jordan Coleman eyes rim while preparing dunk during second half Crusaders' game against Northern Illinois Valparaiso Tuesday

VU junior guard Jordan Coleman eyes the rim while preparing to dunk during the second half of the Crusaders' game against Northern Illinois at Valparaiso Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:18AM



VALPARAISO — Bryce Drew quipped that it was night-time in Ryan Broekhoff’s native Australia.

Whatever the reason, Valparaiso’s senior star was wide awake from the outset of Tuesday’s 7 a.m. (midnight in his hometown of Frankston) start against Northern Illinois, part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon.

The rest of Broekhoff’s Crusaders teammates truly joined in the festivities in the second half.

Not that the Huskies ever threatened, but Valparaiso especially pulled away in the second half for a 69-46 win.

For the game, Broekhoff had 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes. He nearly outscored Northern Illinois (0-2) by himself in the first half — when he had 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3, and seven rebounds — as Valparaiso (2-0) led 23-17 at halftime.

The Crusaders then outscored the Huskies 46-29 — matching the total points for Northern Illinois — in the second half. Valparaiso shot 17-of-25 (68.0 percent) from the field after halftime, including 8-of-11 from 3-point range, after going 8-of-23 (34.8), including 5-of-13 from 3, in the first.

“Give Valpo credit,” Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery said. “They came out at halftime and stepped up offensively.”

Senior guard Ben Boggs didn’t notice any major changes for the Crusaders — who didn’t score a basket until 6:13 had elapsed — between the halves.

“I think we had a lot of open shots in the first half; we just didn’t get them to fall,” he said. “... We were getting in the lane. Once we started kicking it out and hitting couple, it really opened up some things.”

Boggs — who scored all 11 of his points in the second half, when he went 4-of-5 from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3 — got things rolling for Valparaiso when he hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first 45 seconds of the second half.

“We needed a lift. ... It started to get us in a better rhythm,” Drew said.

When Jordan Coleman and Broekhoff had back-to-back ahead-of-the-field dunks, the Crusaders had pushed their lead to 42-22.

In a physical game, Matt Kenney and Valparaiso seemed to draw extra motivation when the senior guard was fouled hard with 10:51 left, with him having to be pulled away from several Northern Illinois players.

He then proceeded to nail three straight 3-pointers from the 7:46 mark to 5:55, giving the Crusaders a 60-35 cushion.

“It was nothing cheap or dirty by NIU,” said Kenney, who scored all 16 of his points in the second half, when he shot 6-of-6, including 3-of-3 from 3. “It was just a good basketball play. Things got heated. ... It made us want to play harder.”

Valparaiso limited Northern Illinois to 19-of-65 (29.2 percent) shooting, including 6-of-32 (18.8) in the first half.

“I thought our post guys were very aggressive, I thought they were very aggressive playing the ball,” Drew said. “We tried not to let their post players get comfortable in post position.”

Erik Buggs had seven assists against two turnovers for the Crusaders, before leaving the game with 4:56 left after a fall. He was getting his left leg stretched on the sideline, and appeared to be icing his left hip on the bench.

Aksel Bolin led the Huskies with 10 points and nine rebounds.

“I’d definitely do it again,” Broekhoff said of the experience. “I’m not the biggest morning person, but the opportunity to play on ESPN, I’d always take that opportunity no matter what time it was during the day.”



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