In a game which featured an astounding 27 lead changes, freshman Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) put Valparaiso ahead on a runner with 37 seconds to play, but Detroit’s Juwan Howard Jr. knocked down a 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds remaining and the Crusaders’ final heave was off the mark as they fell to the Titans at the ARC Friday evening, 59-57.
The Crusaders took a two-point lead on a pair of free throws from Lavonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) with 3:24 to play, but the Titans scored the next three points, getting a second-chance basket from Howard and a free throw from Patrick Onwenu to take a 56-55 lead with 2:16 remaining. Both teams would come up empty on their next possession before Dority hit Peters on the baseline for the go-ahead runner inside the final minute.
Detroit came down with the shot clock and game clock nearly in sync. Evan Bruinsma drove the lane for the Titans’ first attempt to retake the lead, but Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]) blocked his layup attempt out of bounds with 8.4 seconds to go. The inbounds pass went to the top of the key, where Howard out-muscled the Crusader defender for the ball, stepped in and hit the game-winning triple with 5.7 seconds remaining. On a broken last-second play, Peters managed to get a shot at the basket from just inside halfcourt, but his heave came up just short.
17 of the game’s 27 lead changes came in the first half, as the largest lead either way in that stanza was four points, a 16-12 Valpo lead on a Dority triple with 8:32 to play in the period. The Crusaders actually had the ball up two nearing the final minute, but Detroit would end up scoring the last three points of the half to take a 29-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Bruinsma hit three 3-pointers for the Titans in the first 4:40 of the second half, the last of which gave Detroit a five-point edge at 38-33. The Crusader deficit was still five with 10:13 to play, as Howard hit a 3-pointer to make it 43-38 Titans, but Valpo reeled off a quick 7-0 run. Peters started the quick spurt with a 3-pointer and followed with a fast-break layup off a feed from Dority. Following a turnover, the Crusaders came down and Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) found a cutting Capobianco on the baseline for a two-handed slam, giving Valpo a 45-43 lead with 8:30 remaining. Neither team would lead by more than two points the rest of the way.
Peters led the Crusaders on Friday with 16 points, going 7-of-12 from the floor, while Dority added 13 points, but on just 4-of-12 shooting. Valpo was limited to just 40.7% (19-of-47) shooting, was just 5-of-18 from 3-point range and connected on just 14-of-23 (60.9%) from the foul line. Moussa Gueye (Thies, Senegal/SEED Academy [Alabama/Lake Land (Ill.) College]) led the Crusaders with six rebounds and four blocked shots, but Valpo was out-rebounded 37-30, the first time the Crusaders have been out-rebounded in league play this year.
Howard led Detroit (11-14, 4-6 Horizon) with 19 points, while Bruinsma posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Titans were just 9-of-30 inside the arc, but connected on 10 of their 20 3-point attempts.
Valparaiso (14-11, 6-4 Horizon) has a quick turnaround, as the Crusaders will face Oakland to close out the home weekend on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. As always, all the action can be seen live on the Horizon League Network and heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with links for both, as well as live stats, available at ValpoAthletics.com.