Smits leads Valparaiso past Northern Iowa 75-66

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Derrik Smits finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and Valparaiso turned back Northern Iowa 75-66 on Saturday.

Smits sank 9 of 18 from the floor to help the Crusaders (12-7, 5-1 Missouri Valley Conference) shoot 51 percent for the game (26 of 51). Bakari Evelyn came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers and score 14, while Markus Golder added 13 points and six boards. Valparaiso had a 34-20 rebound advantage and that led to a 14-4 edge in second-chance points. Valparaiso also outscored the Panthers (8-11, 3-3) 34-14 in the paint.

Freshman AJ Green made all 10 of his free throws and scored 25 to pace Northern Iowa. Luke McDonnell scored 14 with five rebounds and three assists.

Golder scored all of his points in the first half to help the Crusaders take a 36-30 lead at intermission. NIU trailed 52-48 after McDonnell’s 3-pointer with 9:58 left to play, but Evelyn’s 3-pointer capped a 6-0 run and Valparaiso kept it a two-possession game from there. The Panthers shot 44 percent from the floor, but made just 7 of 24 from distance (29 percent).

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