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Valparaiso 72, Liberty 54

12/31/2003

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Dan Oppland had 13 points and 11 rebounds,
leading Valparaiso to a 72-54 win over Liberty in the consolation
game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic on Tuesday night.

No. 4 Arizona went after its 18th title in the tournament's 19
years in the next game, playing Louisiana-Lafayette.

Ali Berdiel led the Crusaders (3-6) with 17 points, and Ron
Howard scored 14.

Liberty's Larry Blair had 20 points, but couldn't prevent the
Flames (3-9) from losing their fourth straight.

Oppland scored the first nine points in a 15-4 run that carried
the Crusaders to a 52-41 lead with 12:33 remaining in the second
half.

Jimmie Miles extended the lead to 58-43 with two free throws at
the 9:04 mark.

In the next two minutes, Liberty's Ryan Mantlo made two layups
but missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Oppland's two free
throws with 6:51 to go got Valparaiso's lead back to 60-47.

Berdiel, who had 12 points in the first half, punctuated the win
when he stole a pass, beat a defender with a behind-the-back move
and scored with 1:37 to go, increasing the lead to 67-52.

The Flames led by as many as eight points in the first half
before Valparaiso came back.

The Crusaders went ahead 34-33 on two free throws by Berdiel
with 3:17 to go,and 36-33 on Oumar Sylla's baseline jumper with
2:25 left.

But Blair made a 3-pointer with 1:48 to play, and the teams were
tied at 37 at halftime.