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Detroit goes dancing as Horizon League champs

Mar 7, 2012 - 5:52 AM Valparaiso, IN (Sports Network) - The Detroit Titans will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999 after taking down Valparaiso on its home floor, 70-50, in the finals of the Horizon League Tournament.

Ray McCallum scored 21 points and Jason Calliste added 17 to pace third- seeded Detroit (22-13), which snapped a five-game losing streak to the Crusaders by forcing 18 turnovers. LaMarcus Lowe contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Titans captured the program's third conference tourney crown.

"I've been through so much to get here, from freshman year to now. It feels great to be here. It's a dream come true," Calliste said.

Kevin Van Wijk, who twice had to exit because of an apparent knee injury, led Valparaiso (22-11) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Ryan Broekhoff, the conference player of the year, chipped in 13 points in defeat.

The top-seeded Crusaders took out two-time national runner-up Butler in the semifinals on Saturday, but three days later shot just 32 percent from the field in the second half after leading, 27-24 at the break.

Valpo head coach Bryce Drew, who famously hit a game-winning buzzer-beater against Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament when he played for his father, Homer, was trying to bring his alma mater back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2004.

"I just talked to the team, and told them they have a lot to be proud of," Drew said. "We won a lot of close games and performed at a high level all year. This was probably one of our most subpar performances of the year. Give Detroit credit, I felt like they had strong legs in the second half."

Only this time, Detroit had its own father-son duo in head coach Ray McCallum and his son, the sophomore guard whose steal and dunk highlighted the Titans' game-altering 10-0 run late in the second half.

Chase Simon and Calliste each hit from behind the arc during the stretch, and a McCallum layup off another Valpo turnover capped the flurry for a 56-44 lead.

The Crusaders made just one field goal over the final four minutes as the Athletics-Recreation Center crowd quickly made its way to the exits.

The Titans shot 58 percent from the field in the second half.

Game Notes

Valparaiso was playing in its first ever Horizon League Tournament title game...The Crusaders were 14-2 at home coming in...By winning the conference regular season title, Valpo automatically qualified for at least an NIT bid...The Crusaders shot just 2-of-18 (11 percent) from three-point range.