Titans turn the tables with rally at Valparaiso
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or email@example.com February 16, 2013 9:46PM
Valparaiso University's Lavonte Dority (left) drives to the basket past Detroit Titans's Nick Minnerath during their game held at Valparaiso University on Saturday February 16, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 18, 2013 7:14AM
VALPARAISO — The script was familiar. Déjà vu, really.
Except reversed. Totally, 100 percent, 180-degree flipped.
Detroit rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to stun Valparaiso 84-74 on Saturday night in front of a boisterous crowd of 5,166 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders, who were denied the ability to clinch at least a share of the regular-season Horizon League title, had shocked the Titans by overcoming a 22-point second-half deficit for an 89-88 win on Jan. 17 in Detroit.
“I guess that’s what it feels like,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “We did it to them at their place, and they did it to us at our place.
“Basketball’s such a game of momentum. If you miss a couple shots and they make a couple, sometimes it’s hard to break that skid.”
The Titans (18-9, 10-4 Horizon League) reeled off 19 straight points to turn a 63-48 deficit will less than nine minutes left in the game into a 67-63 lead with less than four minutes left. The Crusaders (20-7, 10-3) went scoreless for more than six minutes, and went 81/2 minutes between field goals.
Detroit exploded for 58 points and shot 66.7 percent (20-of-30) from the field in the second half, when Valparaiso committed 11 of its 18 turnovers. The Titans scored 25 points off the Crusaders’ turnovers, including 19 in the second half.
“Tremendous heart, tremendous effort,” said Detroit coach Ray McCallum, adding the Titans have been a second-half team save for the first game against the Crusaders.
“It’s a credit to our guys, we continued to play. Boy, we like challenges, and we stepped up tonight. Great team win.”
Valparaiso went 7-of-16 from 3-point range in the first half, before finishing 11-of-27.
“We did a much better job of finding and locating shooters,” said McCallum, whose team also was outrebounded 24-12 in the first half then just 29-28 for the game, though the Titans’ hot second-half shooting skewed that final number. “That was one of the things I talked about at halftime.
“The key was that we just really choked off the 3. I thought we did a better job of eliminating their 3-point shot. … We made a conscious effort of finding their shooters.”
Matt Kenney noticed a difference.
“Right when we would catch it, they would be ready to be right on us,” he said. “We really just didn’t make plays in the last 10 minutes. We didn’t get stops, we beat ourselves.”
The Crusaders appeared to be primed to move within a hair of wrapping up homecourt advantage for the league tournament when Kenney hit a jumper to give them a 63-48 lead with 9:26 left. At the 10:15 mark, Will Bogan had nailed a 3-pointer, with Jason Calliste called for a flagrant foul on the play on Bobby Capobianco, who hit the second free throw to make it 61-46.
But after Kenney scored, the game went sideways for Valparaiso, which proceeded to miss its next three shots and commit five turnovers.
“The first half, we did a great job (limiting turnovers),” Drew said. “I don’t know if we got tired the second half; we had some uncharacteristically bad passes that we kind of threw right to them, or we couldn’t hold on to the ball and be strong enough with it. Hopefully those are correctable things, and hopefully we can correct them for the rest of the season.”
During that stretch, Detroit scored on eight of its nine possessions, with Evan Bruinsma scoring on back-to-back putbacks to give the Titans a 67-63 lead with 3:37 left.
“We got timely rebounds, we got timely baskets,” McCallum said. “And that’s the thing about this team — we have a lot of guys that can make plays and make baskets.”
Detroit had tied the score at 63-63 on a four-point play from Calliste with 5:02 left, with Erik Buggs fouling out.
“He made a good shot. That’s about all I can say about it,” Buggs said.
“It’s extremely tough. Watching from the sideline, it hurts a little bit.”
The Crusaders losing Buggs was a key moment in the game.
“It was very important,” McCallum said. “He’s a very aggressive player, he’s been more offensive-min�ded of late. He’s a fifth-year guy, he knows what Bryce wants. He’s their leader, so having your leader, fifth-year guy, experienced guy out down the stretch was good for us.”
Ryan Broekhoff made two free throws with 3:20 left to halt the Crusaders’ scoring drought, before Nick Minnerath scored for the Titans to make it 69-65. Ray McCallum’s steal and layup gave Detroit a 72-65 lead with 1:59 left, and his close-range basket with the shot clock winding down made it 74-66 with 1:10 left. LaVonte Dority finally made a basket for the Crusaders with 57.1 seconds left, before the Titans went 10-of-10 from the foul line over the final 51.5 seconds.
Valparaiso put up some eye-catching numbers in the loss, including shooting 50.0 percent (28-of-56) from the field — 56.0 percent (14-of-25) in the second half. The Crusaders placed five players in double-figure scoring, in Kenney (season-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3), Will Bogan (season-high 15 on 5-of-8 from 3), Buggs (12 on 6-of-12 and eight assists), Kevin Van Wijk (10 on 5-of-5 and nine rebounds, tying his season high) and Broekhoff (10).
Minnerath and Calliste each scored 21 points for Detroit. McCallum added 15 and six assists. Bruinsma had 12 and a game-high 10 rebounds.
“You have to give a lot of credit to them for staying in there and making shots in the second half when they needed them,” Drew said.