-- University of Detroit-Mercy sophomore Ray McCallum
Jr. gave his father a wonderful birthday present with the Horizon
League championship and automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Basketball
Tournament. Of course, it was really a team present to head coach
Ray McCallum from all of his Titans as they beat Valparaiso on
the road 70-50.
Athletics-Recreation Center was packed and rocking as U. of D.
(22-13) played great second half defense to take the crowd out
of the game. The young McCallum had 21 points and a noteworthy
four steals. After the game said, “I’ve been playing
since I was 4 years old and this is the greatest feeling in the
world.” He received tournament MVP honors as the Titans
won four games in the Horizon double-bye format.
a sluggish first half, Detroit moved up the pace and forced Valparaiso
(22-11) into turnovers. At the break Valpo went into the locker-room
up 27-24. “At halftime we talked about it being a 40-minute
game,” coach McCallum said.
used a 12-1 run early in the half to seize a 37-32 lead. McCallum
was the driving force in the run, converting a three-point play
to start the burst, and knocking down a jumper.
said that we wanted to come out with a lot of energy and emotion
in the second half, and play like it could be our last game,”
the younger McCallum said. “Then Eli (Holman) got that big
dunk and everyone seemed to feed off of the energy.”
were able to draw within eight, 58-50, but Detroit, the best free-throw
shooting team in the Horizon League, knocked down all six of its
free throws in the closing minutes. This will be the first NCCA
trip for the Titans since the 1998-99 season.
head coach Bryce Drew was quick to recognize the younger McCallum’s
effort, saying, “That was probably one of their best halves
of the season. They’ve won nine out of their last ten
and have been playing at a higher level lately. Ray is very active
defensively. He played 39 minutes and didn’t seem tired
at all. He’s really long and athletic and played at
a high level tonight.”
Valparaiso kept trying to go to Horizon League Player of the Year,
Ryan Broekhoff in an effort to hang around but it was too late.
Kevin Van Wijk dominated early for Valpo before succumbing to
the knee trouble that plagued him down the stretch. Van Wijk had
12 points in the first half, finishing with 17. Broekhoff was
held to just two points in the first half, but carried the Crusaders
in the last 20 minutes with 11.
guard Jason Calliste finished with 17 points and LaMarcus Lowe
gave Detroit its third player in double figures, matching his
career high with 14 points. Calliste said after the game, “We
felt like we were in a good position after not playing good in
the first half. It’s a 40 minute game so we started over
in the 2nd half.”
was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Calliste and Lowe. Broekhoff
and Van Wijk of Valparaiso rounded out the team.
Valpo knocked out Butler (20-14), 65-46 in the semi’s and
Detroit-Mercy beat Cleveland State (22-10), 63-58.
will learn its destination for the NCAA Tournament at 6 p.m. ET
on Sunday, March 11, as part of the NCAA Tournament Selection
Show on CBS-TV, while Valparaiso will head to the NIT.