Detroit claims Horizon championship
Titans down Valparaiso, secure first tourney berth since 1999
VALPARAISO, Ind. -- Ray McCallum Jr. scored 21 points to help Detroit beat Valparaiso 70-50 on Tuesday night in the championship game of the Horizon League tournament.
Jason Calliste scored 17 points and LaMarcus Lowe added 14 for the Titans, who qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.
Detroit (22-13) had lost both regular-season meetings with the Crusaders and trailed this game by three at halftime. The third-seeded Titans shot 58 percent in the second half to advance.
Kevin Van Wijk led Valparaiso with 17 points. Ryan Broekhoff, the conference player of the year, added 13 points for the Crusaders (22-11).
Valparaiso was seeking its first NCAA bid since 2004. The Crusaders automatically qualified for at least an NIT bid after winning the league’s regular-season title.
Valparaiso rolled to an early 23-14 lead, holding Detroit to 25-percent shooting during that stretch. Van Wijk, the Crusaders’ No 2 scorer, went down with a thigh bruise with 3:59 left in the first half. He had scored 12 points when he was injured and Valpo led 25-18.
Valparaiso led 27-24 at halftime and 31-25 early in the second half before McCallum scored seven points during an 11-0 run to give Detroit a 36-31 lead.
Van Wijk made a 3-pointer that cut Detroit’s advantage to 44-42, though he came up hobbling again.
McCallum’s steal and layup gave Detroit a 49-42 lead with just over six minutes to play, and a 3-pointer by Calliste pushed the lead to 10 and forced Valpo to call timeout. The Crusaders never challenged the rest of the way.