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Valpo opens HL tourney meeting Phoenix for third time

2013-03-08T21:30:00Z 2013-10-16T18:27:32Z Valpo opens HL tourney meeting Phoenix for third timeHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Valparaiso will need a little bit of repeated history in order to reach the Horizon League title game for the second straight season.

The Crusaders knocked off Butler in the final regular-season game of the year last season and then sent the Bulldogs packing from the Horizon League with a dominant win in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Valparaiso will need two straight victories over Green Bay to reach Tuesday night after the Phoenix advanced to tonight’s semifinal contest with a 64-63 win over UIC. Bryce Drew’s squad beat the Phoenix 75-56 last Saturday at the Resch Center.

"It's like any game in we'll see what we liked from the last time we played and we'll go from there," Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. "We've had the same type of practices that we normally have and now we can start prepping for one team."

The Crusaders swept Green Bay this season, registering a 73-61 win at the ARC on Jan. 23, but Valparaiso has lost three out of its last five home games against the Phoenix.

Mays matches up: Crete-Monee grad Greg Mays scored eight points and played 21 minutes for Green Bay against UIC. The sophomore forward was tasked with guarding Valpo High alum Hayden Humes, who scored 23.

"He was making shots, it was hard guarding him today, because he was on fire," Mays said.

It was the first time this season Mays played at the ARC. Mays said his parents came to this game, and more friends and family were likely coming tonight for the semifinal matchup against Valparaiso.

With the game won with 1.3 seconds left, Mays said he knew his team had the victory as the ball arched toward the basket.

"When it left (Sultan Muhammad's) hand, I just had a feeling it was going in," Mays said. "We got it."

Thornton grad Jay Parker played three minutes for UIC, taking a 3-point shot in the first half.

Any given night: Wright State picked up 33 of its 66 points off the bench, including Reggie Arceneaux's 11 and Miles Dixon's 14. 

"I know it's different guys every game," Dixon said. "Anybody can step up, and I guess tonight was my night to step up and and be ready to play tonight."

No one from the bench played fewer than 14 minutes and Tavares Sledge was the only player that didn't score.

Record it: In the second half of the Wright State vs. Youngstown State match, 6-foot-7 senior forward Damian Eargle set the tournament record for blocks with nine.

He had none in the first half, but loaded up on blocks with seven against Loyola on Tuesday. The previous record of eight was set in 1982.

Early showing: Wright State will meet Detroit in the first game at 5 p.m. today, before Valpo plays in the late game.

The Raiders hope to slow down Detroit's offense, which is averaging 78.9 points per game. The two teams split in the regular season.

"We have to make it a possession game," Wright State coach Billy Donlon said. "If it is a 70-80 possession game, it's probably not good for us because of what they bring to the table."

!~ Times reporter Paul Oren contributed to this report.

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