Redshirt junior Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) received an inbounds pass in a tie game with 4.6 seconds left and took it the length of the court himself, driving down the left side and going all the way to the basket before laying it in at the buzzer to give Valparaiso a 73-71 victory Friday evening in Horizon League play against Detroit.
The buzzer-beating layup capped a frantic closing stretch where the lead changed hands four times in the final 90 seconds. Trailing by two with the ball with 45 seconds left, the Crusaders ran some clock before isolating sophomore Jay Harris (Aurora, Ill./Oswego East) at the top of the key. Harris drove all the way to the basket and finished with a layup to tie the game at 71 each with 26 seconds remaining.
It looked like Detroit would have the chance to hold the ball for the game’s final shot, but as the Titans’ Chase Simon drove the lane, Buggs stepped in and took a charge with 4.6 seconds left to give Valpo the last opportunity. Inbounding the ball from the baseline, junior Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) hit Buggs in stride coming from right to left about 70 feet from the basket. Buggs turned it up court with his defender on his hip, and seeing the defense focus on the Crusaders’ jump shooters, set up around the perimeter, the captain took it all the way to the rim, finishing with a layup as the horn sounded.
"I feel like we got the ball last tonight, and that enabled us to win," said Crusader head coach Bryce Drew. "Erik made a sensational drive and finish."
The Crusaders actually led by six with 4:29 to play, but a 3-point play by Chase Simon on the fast break cut the lead in half heading into the final media timeout. After a Valpo free throw, Donavan Foster hit a layup to make it a two-point game, but junior Matt Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville) found junior Kevin Van Wijk (Hoofddorp, Netherlands/Katholieke Scholengemeenschap Hoofddorp) inside for a layup of his own on Valpo’s next trip to push the lead back to four points.
Simon would hit a 3-pointer on Detroit’s next possession, bringing the Titans within 67-66 with 2:14 to go. Eli Holman then came up with a block on the defensive end for Detroit before making a short jumper on the offensive end to put the Titans in front, 68-67. Broekhoff responded immediately, shaking Holman before hitting a foul-line jumper to give Valpo a 69-68 edge with 1:03 to go, but Holman got fouled on a putback on the other end with 47 seconds left, completing the 3-point play to make it 71-69 Detroit and setting up the closing sequence.
It was the shooting of redshirt junior Will Bogan (Boise, Idaho/Vallivue [Ole Miss]) which kept the Crusaders in the ballgame in the first half. Bogan nailed three early 3-pointers to help stake Valpo to a 12-4 lead under five minutes into the game. But the Crusaders went cold at that point, going almost seven minutes until yet another Bogan 3-pointer, a stretch in which Detroit went on a 16-1 run to claim the lead. It would be nearly three more minutes until their next field goal, a layup by Bogan, at which point Detroit had pushed the lead into double figures.
The Titans led by as many as 12 at 34-22 with 2:30 to go in the first half before Bogan’s fifth 3-pointer sparked a half-ending run. The junior followed his triple with a steal as Detroit brought the ball up the court, finding Broekhoff for a basket in the paint as he was being fouled. Broekhoff completed the 3-point play to cut the deficit to six. Then, as the half reached the final 90 seconds, Broekhoff and junior Richie Edwards (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland [Hillsborough C.C.]) each converted inside baskets to cut Detroit’s advantage to just 35-32 at the half, capping a quick 10-1 spurt.
The second half would resemble a heavyweight bout, as both squads gave their best shots in a 20-minute stretch which saw nine ties and 13 lead changes. Valpo claimed the lead 48 seconds into the second half on Bogan’s sixth triple of the game, and would go up by five points at 46-41 with 14:41 to go on his seventh 3-pointer. Over the next nine minutes, the game would be played entirely within one possession either way.
Detroit went on a 10-2 run following Bogan’s seventh triple, claiming a 51-48 lead on a Jason Calliste 3-pointer with 10:56 to go. Van Wijk took it upon himself to answer, hitting a layup on Valpo’s next trip and then getting a putback one possession later, putting the Crusaders back out in front. Over the next two minutes, Detroit would twice re-gain the lead, only for junior Ben Boggs (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley [Virginia Tech]) to step up and hit a pair of free throws both times to return the advantage to Valpo’s side of the ledger.
A 3-pointer by Ray McCallum with 6:18 to go tied the affair at 58-all, but Broekhoff answered immediately with his only triple of the game to give Valpo a 61-58 edge. Then, after a Detroit miss, Kenney got to the free throw line and hit a pair to push the lead up to five points. Broekhoff would eventually split a pair of free throws on Valpo’s next trip to make it a six-point game and set up the final four-minute stretch.
"Detroit is a very, very good team," said Drew. "Will was sensational in the first half, single-handedly keeping us in the game. We probably wouldn't have had a chance in the second half without his shooting. The last five minutes was a tournament-type game, with lead changes, guys making big shots, and guys stepping up and making big defensive plays."
Bogan’s seven 3-pointers propelled him to a game-high 23 points on Friday, as his only miss came on a last-second 3-point attempt at the end of the first half. Van Wijk added 17 points, 12 of which came in the second half, and six rebounds, while Broekhoff finished the night with 14 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Edwards contributed six points and six rebounds in 13 key minutes off the bench as well. Valpo finished the night hitting exactly 50% from the floor (24-of-48), including eight 3-pointers.
McCallum led Detroit (8-10, 1-4 Horizon) with 22 points, including an 11-of-13 effort at the free throw line. Holman put up 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Calliste added 14 points as well in the losing effort.
"Our guys are definitely getting a lot of experience on how to play in close games," said Drew. "From a coaching standpoint, it gets very exhausting with so many ups and downs. But I think the guys really worked hard this week in practice, and it was nice to see their hard work pay off and to get key stops when we needed them."
Valparaiso (10-6, 3-1 Horizon) looks for a sweep of the road pair of games this weekend as the Crusaders travel to Wright State for a 2 p.m. CT tip on Sunday afternoon. As always, all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and seen online via the Horizon League Network. Links for the live audio and video webcasts, as well as live stats, will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com.