Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Van Wijk led Valparaiso with 31 points as the Crusaders came from behind to beat Detroit on the road.
Valparaiso and Detroit are by far the two most talented teams in the Horizon League this season. That is why it was so crucial for Detroit to open up a 21-point lead in its first meeting with the Crusaders.
With the game being at home for Detroit, where they had won 17 games in a row entering Jan. 17, the chances of a loss were slim.
But starting around the 16-minute mark of the second half, Valparaiso began to chip away. The lead was down to 14 points, 67-53, at the under-12 media timeout. Then it was 76-67 at the under-eight timeout.
But still, at the under-four timeout, Detroit led by nine points. The lead jumped up to 11 after Juwan Howard Jr.'s jumper out of the timeout.
Then, with 2:37 remaining, the real run began for Valparaiso. Matt Kenney hit a three-pointer to cut the lead back to single digits, and after a defensive stop, Kenney hit another trey on the next possession.
Detroit came up empty once again on the next possession, and the Crusaders capitalized with a layup by Kevin Van Wijk, cutting the lead to 88-85.
Detroit's Jason Calliste then committed a turnover, and Van Wijk drew a foul and made both free throws on the other end, making it a one-point game. Star point guard Ray McCallum turned the ball back over to the Crusaders, and then Ryan Broekhoff made two foul shots after Howard Jr. committed a foul.
Suddenly, and against all odds, Valparaiso held its first lead of the game at 89-88 with fewer than 20 seconds on the clock. The Crusaders got the defensive stop they needed, as Evan Bruinsma and Nick Minnerath both missed three-pointers for the win, and they escaped with a victory that gave them first place in the Horizon League.
The individual efforts in this game were also quite notable. Van Wijk scored 31 points and Broekhoff had 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Valparaiso. Minnerath posted 36 points for Detroit on 12-of-17 shooting, and Calliste and Doug Anderson combined for another 31 points.