Smits with 11, Valparaiso holds on to beat S. Illinois 55-52

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Derrik Smits scored 11 points off the bench and Valparaiso held on to beat Southern Illinois 55-52 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game skid.

The Crusaders (14-14, 7-8 Missouri Valley Conference) trailed 28-24 at the break but surged 9-0 to open the second half and Jaume Sorolla capped the run with a dunk to give them a 33-28 lead. Valparaiso stretched it to 55-46 with 2:07 to play but Southern Illinois closed in after that, cutting it to the final margin with just under a minute left. The Salukis (14-14, 7-8) missed two 3-point attempts after that as the Crusaders held on for the win.

Deion Lavender added 10 points and seven rebounds for Valparaiso. Jaume Sorolla had eight points and four blocks.

Armon Fletcher scored 18 points with eight rebounds for the Salukis. Marcus Bartley added 10 points.