The Crusaders led for over 36 minutes of Wednesday's game but Tayelor McCalister's ten-foot jumper with four seconds remaining was the game-winner as the Titans stole an 81-79 tilt at Calihan Hall in Detroit.
For the second straight night, Jessica Carr (Arcadia, Ind./Hamilton Heights) set a career mark in points. The point guard canned five three-pointers - also a career-high - as part of a 21-point contest. Carr was 7-for-15 from the field total.
The Brown and Gold shot at a premium rate in the first half, establishing open looks off dribble penetration and quick ball movement. They made seven of their first eight shots and 12 of their first 14 as the Crusaders finished the first half on 17-of-28 shooting.
Carr's second free throw of the half put the Crusaders on top 40-23 with just over six minutes on the clock.
A 17-2 Detroit run that began just before the final media timeout of the first half cut the Crusader lead that was once 17, down to a basket. A Lexi Miller (Caledonia, Mich./Caledonia) triple with 34 seconds on the clock snapped the Titans' spurt.
Valpo went into the locker room with a 45-40 edge. Though Titan freshman Megan Galloway had 12 points and six boards by the final whistle of the half, the Crusaders limited Senee Shearer to just three points on 1-of-5 shooting.
The Brown and Gold opened their lead back to double digits on a couple of occasions in the early part of the second half. A Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) tip-in extended Valpo's advantage to 58-49.
Shearer caught fire at the 12:22 mark, though. The senior nailed three treys in less than two minutes to draw the Titans to within four before a Galloway field goal made it a one-possession affair with 10 minutes in regulation.
Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) and Sharon Karungi (Kampala, Uganda/[Northern Oklahoma College]) scored on back-to-back trips down the court to re-establish Valpo's lead at six points. At the end of Karungi's lay-in, an official felt she taunted a Detroit player who had fallen on the play and whistled the forward for a technical foul. Shearer knocked down both free throws from the technical before Galloway converted on one of two tries from the charity stripe to make it a one-possession ballgame.
Up 71-68, Carr found the bottom of the net on her fifth three-pointer of the night to push Valpo's lead back to six. The Titans scored the next six points as a Shearer triple capped off the comeback to tie it 74-74.
Detroit took its first lead of the game when McCalister converted on a jumper in the paint. Karungi answered on the ensuing possession with an old-fashioned three-point play to give Valpo a 77-76 leg up with four minutes to play.
The Crusaders turned the ball over on consecutive possessions under the three-minute mark. Shearer canned a jumper between the two miscues giving the home team a one-point advantage.
Carr was called for her fifth foul with 1:49 remaining on a put-back attempt by Galloway. The forward made one of two from the foul line for a 79-77 Detroit lead.
Wiedemann drained a jumper in the lane on the Brown and Gold's next trip down the lane, bringing the game to a 79-79 deadlock. The Titans were able to hold for the last shot and after a timeout, McCalister drove and hit a mid-range jumper near the right elbow for an 81-79 lead.
Valpo had four seconds - and no timeouts - to assemble a last-second effort. From a sideline inbounds, Wiedemann got a decent shot off from 25 feet, but it was just off the mark.
Karungi had her second double-double in as many games with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Richardson contributed 13 points and four assists while Wiedemann finished with 13 and Lexi Miller pitched in ten points.
Shearer scored 20 of her game-high 23 in the second half. Galloway also recorded a double-double with 21 points and ten boards. The Titans committed just three second-half turnovers.
With the win, Detroit (5-21, 2-11 Horizon) keeps its hopes alive of hosting the #8/#9 game on March 10th. The Crusaders (4-22, 2-11 Horizon) own the tiebreaker by virtue of their win last Saturday over Oakland.
The Brown and Gold return home Saturday to host Green Bay (16-8, 9-3 Horizon) at 7:05 pm. Valparaiso will honor its three seniors - Liz Horton, Charae Richardson, and Elizabeth Hamlet - prior to the game. Links to the audio, video, and live stats will be available at valpoathletics.com.