Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) scored a career-high 31 points Friday evening, but it was not enough for Valparaiso, as the Crusaders saw a ten-point halftime lead erased as Detroit prevailed 77-67 in Detroit, Mich.
Johnson knocked down ten of 16 attempts from the floor despite going up against 6’10” Indiana transfer Eli Holman. Including among his ten field goals were his first three 3-pointers of the season, as the redshirt junior was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Johnson also stepped up at the free throw line, hitting 8-for-10 from the foul stripe.
Valpo jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead just over three minutes into the game thanks to five early points from Johnson, as well as a 3-pointer by Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) and a layup by Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School). The Crusaders would go scoreless from the field for the next six minutes, however, as Detroit scored the next nine points to take a 14-10 lead.
The Titans’ advantage was still at 17-14 with eight minutes to go in the half when the Crusaders got on a roll to head into the break, going on a 20-7 spurt over the half’s last two segments to take a 34-24 lead into halftime. Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) scored nine points during the eight-minute stretch, while Johnson added six as part of the spurt.
An early second-half run got the Titans back into the contest, as Detroit scored eight straight points over four possessions to close what had been a 38-28 Valpo lead down to just 38-36. Detroit got within one at 40-39, but the Crusaders responded with six straight points on layups by Little and Wood and two free throws from Johnson to go up 46-39 with 10:45 remaining.
But the Crusaders would give up points on each of Detroit’s next eight possessions as the Titans took control. Early in the run, Valpo held the Titans at bay by scoring baskets of its own, and two free throws by Johnson edged the Crusader lead back up to 52-49 with 8:02 to play. A 3-pointer by Chase Simon tied things up on the next trip for Detroit, and two possessions later Simon hit another triple to give the Titans the lead for good, as their 21-6 run over seven minutes put the game away in their favor.
Wood joined Johnson in double figures, hitting six of his ten shots from the field for 13 points. Little pulled down a team-high seven rebounds in addition to his six points, while Matt Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville) handed out four assists without a turnover in 26 minutes of action.
Four of the five starters for Detroit (11-5, 4-1 Horizon) ended the game in double figures in the scoring column, paced by an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double by Eli Holman. Thomas Kennedy scored 17 points, while Xavier Keeling added 15 points and Simon 14.
Valparaiso (6-10, 1-3 Horizon) continues its weekend road trip at Wright State on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. CST. As always, the game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso) and can be seen on the Horizon League Network. Valpo’s athletic website, www.valpoathletics.com, will have links for live audio, video and statistics.