VALPARAISO | Bobby Capobianco would be the first to admit that he hasn’t played to his expectations in the first six games of the season.
The Valparaiso senior put those shortcomings to rest Tuesday night with a season-high 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as the Crusaders beat Central Florida 85-70.
Capobianco scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and provided a spark in the paint when Valparaiso big men Vashil Fernandez and Moussa Gueye fouled out.
“For me personally, it’s important to try and come in and do the things I can do to help the team win,” Capobianco said. “I haven’t been rebounding to the level that I need to be, and that was kind of my focus coming in. I wanted to try to own the boards.”
Central Florida came into the game following an upset win at Miami and with a plus-11 rebounding margin. Capobianco’s nine rebounds helped propel the Crusaders to a 34-32 rebounding edge and a 24-16 advantage on the defensive glass.
“Bobby’s leadership has been tremendous,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “He came in today and plays the four and the five. He knew all the plays and exactly what to do at the five despite not getting a lot of practice time there. He just had a tremendous night. I would say this was his best game in a Valpo uniform.”
The Crusaders (4-3) got off to a blistering start as Lexus Williams scored six of the first eight points, and Valparaiso led 20-7 less than eight minutes into the game. The Chicago native finished with 10 points and four assists in his second start of the season.
“We wanted to be aggressive,” Williams said. “That’s what we said in the beginning of the game. We wanted to get a great start.”
Alec Peters led five Crusaders in double figures with 16 points as the freshman knocked down four 3-pointers. Jordan Coleman had 15 points and three assists and has scored in double figures in all seven games this season. LaVonte Dority struggled with his shot, but knocked down all seven free throws and finished with 12 points.
“Anytime you have seven guys that score eight or more points, that’s a great sign of your teams balance,” Drew said. “We had 17 assists tonight, and that shows our team chemistry.”
Calvin Newell led the Knights (3-2) with 16 points, while Kasey Wilson added 15 points and six rebounds. The teams will meet again when Valparaiso travels to Orlando on Dec. 22.