IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- This time it was the Iowa backcourt's
turn to shine.
Jeff Horner scored a season-high 19 points and Mike Henderson
tied a season best with 15 to lead Iowa (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP) to a 72-59 victory
over Valparaiso on Saturday night in the championship game of the
No surprise. Winning the two-day event has become automatic for
Iowa, which owns 21 straight tournament titles and has a 47-1
record since it began in 1982.
Henderson and Horner ensured Iowa's dominance again. The duo
combined to score eight of Iowa's first 13 points, and Horner
scored 12 points in the final 9½ minutes as the Hawkeyes (7-1) put
the game away.
For Horner, who was voted the tournament MVP, the performance
offered relief from his shooting woes so far this season.
"I feel pretty good actually," said Horner, who was 9-of-12
from the free throw line. "I've been struggling so bad shooting
that I've had to find other things to do for this team, trying to
take charges, get big steals and stuff like that. That's all I've
been doing the last couple of days."
So far this season, the scoring burden has fallen on forward
Greg Brunner, who scored 23 points in the opening round win over
Fairfield Friday, and swing man Adam Haluska, who led the Hawkeyes
with 18 points in a win earlier in the week over No. 24 North
But against Valparaiso (3-1), Horner and Henderson took control.
When Dan Oppland scored on a layup to get the Crusaders within
three early in the second half, Henderson scored the next seven
Iowa points to put the Hawkeyes back up by eight.
Horner took over down the stretch, hitting a 3-pointer at the
9:46 mark that gave the Hawkeyes a 10-point lead, their biggest of
They combined again to score seven straight points during a
two-minute span in which Iowa extended its lead to 12, and Horner
closed by hitting six of seven from the free throw line.
Iowa coach Steve Alford credited his back court for getting
Iowa's offense out of a funk that led to a season-low 45 points
against NC State and a sluggish outing against winless Fairfield.
"We are a transition team and I thought tonight we were pretty
good in the half court," Alford said. "Jeff, for instance, got to
the line 12 times, and that's how you get out of it. (Henderson)
hit three baskets in a row and ... I thought he was a big key for
Oppland led Valparaiso with 23 points on 11-of-19 shooting, but
had little help from his teammates. Mohamed Kone, the only other
Crusader in double figures, had 10 points as the team shot 39
percent from the floor and 15 percent from 3-point range.
"I like what we did at times, but we just couldn't sustain a
spurt and couldn't get any consistency in our offense," Valparaiso
coach Homer Drew said
Iowa also got 14 points from Haluska, while Brunner grabbed a
game-high 13 rebounds and added nine points.
The Hawkeyes shot 41 percent from the field, and were stellar
from the free-throw line, where they made 17 of 21 attempts (81
The Hawkeyes, winners of four straight, face a challenge Tuesday
when they travel to Northern Iowa. Iowa has lost its last two times
its faced the Panthers on the road.