VALPARAISO | Signing autographs on "Meet the Vikings" night wouldn't be fun after a loss.
So Times No. 10 Valparaiso first took care of business Saturday night, pulling off a 56-49 upset of No. 2 Munster and snapping the Mustangs' 11-game winning streak.
Valpo (11-7) earned its first win over Munster (15-4) since 2010.
"I don't know if I expected it, but I thought it was possible," first-year Valpo coach Matt Thomas said. "Munster is too good, and I'm too realistic to walk in here with a cocky attitude thinking we're going to beat them."
The Vikings, coming off a buzzer-beating win over Crown Point on Thursday, jumped out to a 15-8 lead after one quarter. The Mustangs' only leads of the game came at 3-0 and 8-7.
Valpo senior Alex Healy knocked down a 3-pointer for a 10-8 lead off an assist from Cole Wolf, and Wolf hit one on the next possession. Brandon Nicholas finished off the quarter with an acrobatic putback of a Justin Osburn 3-point air ball, giving the Vikings momentum they carried through the rest of the half.
Munster battled back from a 24-12 halftime deficit, using a 1-3-1 and 2-1-2 defense to force the Vikings into six third-quarter turnovers. Overall, the Vikings committed 18 turnovers, including 10 traveling violations.
After the Vikings committed four consecutive turnovers to start the third quarter, Thomas called a timeout to rally his team.
"They needed to match their intensity," Thomas said. "Munster is the toughest team in the region, not just because they win but because of how they play, and you've got to match that."
Healy broke Valpo's dry spell with a 3-pointer at 3:31 of the third, and Nicholas added another with 33 seconds remaining to give the Vikings a 31-26 advantage. Both players have struggled shooting this season, but they were big contributors to the team's 10-for-18 performance from the arc.
"I always try to get at least two or three 3-point shooting drills in every practice," Thomas said. "We're not the biggest team, so we have to be able to shoot from the perimeter. I'm starting to feel like it's more improvement and not just a fluke."
Valpo was able to hold on down the stretch, converting 15-of-18 free throws in the final 2:11. Munster got within 47-44 with 52 seconds remaining on a Drew Hackett 3-pointer, but the Vikings made 9-of-10 from the line after that.
Junior forward Drew Paul led the Vikings with 14 points and four rebounds. He hit 7-of-8 free throws in the final quarter. Justin Osburn added 12 points, all on 3-pointers including two in the first quarter, and Nicholas added 11 points.
Hackett led Munster with 20 points, including 16 in the second half. Pat McCarthy added 11 points for the Mustangs.
The Valpo-Munster series was revived in 2006, after the Vikings dropped South Central from their schedule. Munster leads 6-3. All the games have been relatively low scoring.
Even with Rob Hummel and Scott Martin, Valpo only managed a 54-49 win in 2007, and its last victory came in 2010 with a score of 45-31 at Viking Gym.
Munster entered the game as the area's hottest team, averaging a 24-point margin of victory during an 11-game winning streak. And that includes Thursday's 57-56 win at West Side.
The Vikings, on the other hand, are proving to be reloading instead of rebuilding under Thomas.
While not prolific offensively, averaging 47.8 points per game, the Vikings have surrendered only 42 per game including holding three opponents to 27 points or less.
"I'm really excited about the win, but cautious," Thomas said. "I know that this was a good win, but it's just one win. I'm happy, but an hour after the game I'm thinking about what am I going to do on Monday."