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Valparaiso pulls off stunning rally to beat Detroit

Valparaiso's Matt Kenney Ryan Broekhoff hold off Detroit's Doug AndersThursday night Detroit. | Tim Busch~For Sun-Times Media

Valparaiso's Matt Kenney and Ryan Broekhoff hold off Detroit's Doug Anderson Thursday night in Detroit. | Tim Busch~For Sun-Times Media

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The Big Number

Valparaiso had five turnovers in the second half after committing 10 in the first. Entering the game, opponents had committed 17.2 against Detroit, an average ranked No. 23 nationally, and the Titans’ turnover margin of plus-5.6 was No. 6.

“They’re a very good defensive team,” said Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew, whose team had averaged 15.6 entering the game. “We’re not the only team they’ve turned over; they’ve turned over everybody all year.

We knew we were going to turn the ball over some against them, so our big thing was we just wanted to not make it so many that we couldn’t recover from it.”

The Bonus

With 11:17 left in the game, Bobby Capobianco was called for a flagrant foul and ejected, when Doug Anderson came up with a steal and was on his way to a would-be dunk.

Updated: February 19, 2013 3:19PM



DETROIT — What turnovers?

What sketchy defense?

What career game from Nick Minnerath?

Long, long, long forgotten, with Valparaiso instead authoring a dizzying, determined, dogged comeback. The Crusaders overcame a 22-point second-half deficit to stun Detroit 89-88 at Calihan Hall, adding another chapter to the burgeoning rivalry between the teams.

With a career-high 31 points from Kevin Van Wijk and Ryan Broekhoff knocking down the go-ahead free throws to complete the see-it-and-still-not-quite-believe-it rally — it was the Crusaders’ first and only lead of the game — they scored the game’s last 12 points over the final 2:37 to break a second-place tie in the Horizon League and set up Saturday’s matchup for first place at the ARC against Wright State.

“I was kind of speechless in the locker room after the game,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “I though Detroit dominated the game for the most part. We were able to chip away in the second half, chip away, and the last couple minutes we made a bunch of shots in a row to give us a chance for the lead there at the end. It was just one of those crazy games we’ve had against Detroit these last few years. I’m just really proud of our guys how they persevered in the second half.”

Said Van Wijk: “We needed to keep fighting. … We knew it was going to take the whole game and not just one minute. We knew if we kept fighting and kept playing hard, we’d slowly get back in the game.”

Valparaiso (14-5, 4-1 Horizon League), which swept its three-game road stretch, snapped a 17-game home win streak for Detroit (11-7, 3-2), with the Crusaders also having won 73-71 on Erik Buggs’ coast-to-coast layup on Jan. 6, 2012. The Titans also had won 22 straight games in which they had scored at least 80 points.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Broekhoff said with a laugh, when asked how Valparaiso was able to pull off the win. “Obviously, we went into halftime and really weren’t happy with how we played. We knew if stuck to it and played like how we normally play, they might let us back into the game. We just really locked down on defense, and our offense was really working in the second half. We made some plays down the stretch and they kind of tightened up. It was one heck of a win. It’s hard to explain.”

Valparaiso trailed 60-38 with 17:08 left when Minnerath — who scored 36 points, the most by a Horizon League player this season, on 12-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, doing it in a wide assortment of ways, regardless of how the Crusaders attempted to guard him — made three free throws. But though the Crusaders were down, they were not out.

Detroit still led 88-77, before Matt Kenney made a 3-pointer with 2:37 left and another with 1:48 left. Van Wijk, a force inside all game as he shot an unconscious 13-of-15 from the field en route to surpassing his previous best of 25 points at Kent State earlier this season, scored, then added two free throws to make it 88-87 after a back-court violation on the Titans.

Ray McCallum then committed a turnover, and Broekhoff was fouled with 17.4 seconds left as he headed toward the other end of the court. He proceeded to make both free throws to put the Crusaders — who shot 20-of-32 (62.5 percent) from the field in the second half — in front.

“I was pretty calm, actually,” said Broekhoff, who entered the game shooting 90.3 percent from the line. “I just knew that I had put in the work, I had made all my free throws to that point (6-of-6, finishing 8-of-8, as part of an 18-point, nine-rebound night, just short of his fourth straight double-double). I felt pretty good. Just shoot it in rhythm and stay in your routine, and hope it goes in in the end.”

Detroit called timeout with 13.4 seconds left, before Evan Bruinsma missed a 3-pointer. The Titans grabbed the offensive rebound and called timeout with 2.1 seconds left, before Minnerath missed a contested 3 as time expired, as the Crusaders celebrated.

“Heartbreaking loss,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. “There’s a reason they’re the defending (regular-season) Horizon League champs. They play to the end. They make hustle plays. … They got the stops and made the plays down the stretch to get the win.”

Kenney had 12 points for the Crusaders on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. Doug Anderson — who Drew described as “probably the best dunker and jumper in the country” — had 17 points for the Titans on 8-of-11 shooting, and Jason Calliste added 14 on 6-of-10. The Crusaders limited McCallum to six points on 2-of-11 shooting.

Detroit had used a 13-2 run to take a 17-6 lead with 13:18 left in the first half, and opened up a 50-32 halftime cushion when Calliste hit a deep 3-pointer with one second left, as the Titans shot 21-of-31 from the field (67.7 percent).

“Detroit’s such a talented team, and they score the ball so quickly; I thought we actually played pretty good defense for a while, and they just made shot after shot,” Drew said.

“I think both teams get a little extra fired up for these games, just because we’ve played each other so many times the last few years (including in each of the last three league tournaments). I definitely think both teams were excited to play tonight. Detroit came out and got all over us right away.”

But the Crusaders would not be denied in the second half.

“You can’t get it all back at once,” Broekhoff said. “If you try to do too much too early, it’s just going to work opposite for you. We tried to get a few points down each media break, each timeout, just try to get little wins that add up. We gave ourselves an opportunity with a couple minutes left, and really made some good plays. … It was really good execution down the stretch.”



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