We all love basketball.
That's why we stay up late at night and watch those tournament games. That's why we buy tickets to regular-season games. That's why when our team makes the tournament, we get excited and we plan the next few weeks around it.
But sometimes our beloved team doesn't make the dance.
Sometimes they have a losing season.
So we look for something else or someone else to keep our hearts active and our minds in the game.I go to the University of Detroit Mercy. I have written a few articles covering the men's basketball team this season.
When they lost to Wright State and missed the tournament, I had hope for the NIT.
They lost in the opening round.
At the same time on the women's side, however, the Titans received a bid to the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI).
While the WBI is not the biggest tournament around (the third biggest of the three woman’s tournament and the most likely tournament to not get any attention by the media and alumni of universities), I was very excited to see the girls play on.
They were given a No. 1 seed and a favorable bracket.
The WBI started last week. In the opening round, the Titans faced the Belmont Bruins. In what turned out to be a tough matchup, the Titans were able to hold off the Bruins, 71-68.
Sophomore Shareta Brown led the Titans in scoring with 30 points. Seniors Demeisha Fambro and Yar Shayok both played excellent, adding 14 and 11 points, respectively.
In the quarterfinals, the Titans faced the College of Charleston Cougars.
The Titans did not falter and defeated the Cougars, 79-67. The deciding factor of the game was a 22-4 run by the Titans midway through the game, led by Shayok.
Shayok recorded 23 points and 17 rebounds. Brown added another 22 points, and Fambro had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Going into the semifinals, the Titans faced their most difficult opponent of the tournament.
The day prior to the game, I remember talking to a member of the team. When discussing the Titans' success, she put her expectations quite frankly: “We might as well win the whole thing.”
Against the No. 2-seeded Penn Quakers, the Titans continued their winning ways and won a close game at historic Calihan Hall, 71-68. Brown once again lit up the scoreboard, adding 32 points and a steal.
Shayok and Fambro both added 12 points each, and the Titans reached the finals of the WBI for the first time ever.
The success of this group of seniors has rarely been felt at UDM.
Prior to the last two seasons, the Titans had only once seen postseason action (1996-97 when the Titans made the NCAA tournament lost in the opening round, 81-67, to the Kansas Jayhawks). Last season, the Titans recorded their first 20-win season since the historic 1996-97 season.
They were invited to the WNIT and lost in the first round 59-49 to the Toledo Rockets.
Calihan Hall was electric for the championship game. The Titans faced the McNeese State Cowgirls. McNeese State had a down year compared to where they had been the last two seasons (consecutive conference championships and NCAA tournament bids).
The first half of the game was highly competitive. McNeese State stayed close with the Titans and went on a run midway through the first half to take the lead. By the end of the half, the Cowgirls held a two-point lead.
The Titans came out hot in the second half and went on a huge 10-2 run, which changed the entire dynamics of the game. The Titans would not let up and their constant effort led to their first championship, winning 73-62.
Brown led all scorers, scoring 28 points and racked up 14 rebounds (her third double-double of the tournament).
For the seniors of McNeese State, the loss was a hallowing defeat. McNeese State point guard Caitlyn Baggett played a marvelous game, scoring 16 points and adding an impressive eight assists.
For the seniors of Detroit Mercy, the win was a special one.
Throughout all of the chaos that has engulfed the Titans over the years, winning a championship was the reward for four years of dedication and hard work. And now that it's over, the Titans have something to build upon next season.
For those seniors, their hard work and dedication will live on in the memories of all Titans fans and a championship trophy which now brightens the trophy room of Calihan Hall.