VALPARAISO, Ind. —Georgia Southern ran into a very good Valparaiso squad in the 2012-13 season opener, falling 85-54 to the Crusaders. The Eagles are back in action on Tuesday night with a trip to Charlotte. That game can be seen at 9 p.m. live, nationwide, on the NBC Sports Network
“Last year Valparaiso reached the Horizon League Championship Game and they proved tonight that they are going to be a tournament caliber club this year,” said coach Charlton Young. “I was worried about our injuries coming in with some of our guys not getting as many reps. We knew it was going to be tough tonight, now we’ve got to get ourselves ready for Tuesday’s game at Charlotte.”
The Eagles were led in scoring by freshman Cleon Roberts who scored 18 points on the night. It was the best career-opener since Eric Ferguson dropped 26 points in his career opener, just up the road at Notre Dame.
“Cleon is a long, athletic player and he showed he could play tonight,” said Young. “We’ve got to get everyone playing at that level and healthy so we can have more consistency this year.”
Eric Ferguson opened his junior season with his fifth-straight double-figure scoring night. He dropped 16 points with seven rebounds in his 62nd career game for the Eagles. Valparaiso, however, was led by Kevin Van Wijk with 16 points. All nine players for Valpo scored five or more points.
Southern was hampered in the contest by 21 turnovers which paved the way to 36 Crusader points. Junior Tre Bussey was GSU’s third player in double-figures with 10 points, reaching double-figures for the first time since the 2010-11
Georgia Southern fell behind early in the contest, getting off to a nervy start in the early minutes of the game. GSU trailed by as many as 13 at 11:15 in the first half, before cutting the margin to six points with nine minutes remaining. GSU’s start included a Ferguson dunk to start the scoring for the fifth-consecutive game.
Valparaiso, however got hot from downtown in the opening period, going 6-for-13 from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes. The Crusaders shot 46% from the field in the first half to GSU’s 33% mark. A three-pointer by Jordan Coleman at the horn gave Valpo a 40-21 advantage at the intermission.
In the second half, Valparaiso improved its shooting from the field, finishing the game with a 53 percent mark overall and 54 percent from the bonusphere. The Crusaders made 7-of-11 from downtown in the second half to take the victory.
Next up for Georgia Southern is a trip to Charlotte on Tuesday evening. The game can be seen live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 9 p.m.
Georgia Southern (0-1)
Ferguson 5-13 6-9 16, Baynham 2-2 2-2 6, Roberts 4-7 9-12 18, Bussey 4-5 0-0 10, Reed 0-4 1-2 1, Pernell 1-5 0-0 3, Holmes 0-1 0-0 0, Daniels 0-0 0-0 0, Baskerville 0-1 0-0 0, Dunnican 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-39 18-25 54.
Broekhoff 4-5 4-4 14, Van Wijk 5-8 6-7 16, Bogan 2-5 0-0 6, Boggs 3-8 0-0 7, Buggs 2-6 2-2 6, Coleman 4-8 3-4 15, Rossi 3-3 0-0 9, Fernandez 2-2 1-2 5, Kenney 2-6 2-2 7. Totals 27-51 18-21 85.
3-Point Goals—Georgia Southern 4-13 (Bussey 2-2, Roberts 1-3, Pernell 1-4, Holmes 0-1, Reed 0-3), Valparaiso 13-24 (Coleman 4-4, Rossi 3-3, Broekhoff 2-3, Bogan 2-5, Boggs 1-3, Kenney 1-5, Buggs 0-1).
Rebounds—Georgia Southern 23 (Baynham, Ferguson 7), Valparaiso 31 (Boggs 7).
Assists—Georgia Southern 8 (Baynham, Reed 2), Valparaiso 19 (Buggs 9). Total
Fouls—Georgia Southern 20, Valparaiso 17.