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Valparaiso leaves Niagara behind

Junior Clif Brown continued his hot scoring pace for the Niagara men's basketball team.

On Saturday night, he poured in a career-high 32 points, but it still wasn't enough as the Purple Eagles dropped their BracketBusters game to Valparaiso, 88-82, in front of 3,140 in the Athletics Recreation Center.

Brown has six straight games with 20 or more points.

Niagara's only lead of the game was 3-2 -- on a three-pointer by Lorenzo Miles in the first minute of the game. Valpo regained the lead on its next possession and held it thanks in large part to shooting an impressive 56 percent.

Valparaiso took a 42-28 halftime lead, but the Purple Eagles (10-15) came back, starting the second half on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 42-37.

A three-point play by Miles pulled Niagara within three, 45-42, with 15:47 left to play, but Valpo went on a 7-0 run to regain a double-digit lead -- 52-42.
The Crusaders led by as many as 15, 80-55, with 4:38 to play, but the Purple Eagles hung around, hitting a few big shots to keep the game interesting. Niagara cut the lead to six on a three-pointer by Brown with 51 seconds left but could get no closer.

Brown finished the game hitting 12 of his 22 shots, including three of his eight three pointers, while sinking all five of his free throws. He added eight rebounds.

Miles added 13 points with five assists and six rebounds. James Mathis scored 12 points with seven rebounds, while J.R. Duffey (11 points) and Barry Durosier (10 points) were the other double-figure scorers for Niagara.
The Purple Eagles shot 45 percent from the field but hit only 28 percent from three-point range (9 for 32). Niagara committed just 10 turnovers and had 19 second-chance points.

Dan Oppland led the Crusaders with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Ron Howard added 15 points and six assists.

Ali Berdiel scored 10 points with four assists, while Mohamed Kone scored 12 points with six rebounds.

Valparaiso got 33 points from its bench -- an obvious advantage over the manpower-disadvantaged Purple Eagles, who are down to seven players.

Valparaiso improved to 16-9 in its last home game of the season. The Crusaders are 8-6 in the Mid-Continent Conference.

Niagara fell to 3-6 in nonconference games and 3-8 in road games.

The Purple Eagles return to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play when they travel to Marist on Thursday. They conclude the regular season at Siena on Saturday. Niagara is 7-9 in the MAAC and tied for sixth place.

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