The Valparaiso Crusaders battled back in the second half to push past the Wright State Crusaders 62-54 on Tuesday night to win the Horizon League Tournament and head to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004.
Early on, it seemed like the Crusaders were well on their way to March Madness with the auto-bid, but things started to unravel in the second half to make the game interesting again.
The Crusaders entered the first half with an 11-point lead and a rabid home base crowd ready to scream the Raiders out of the building, but the Raiders didn't back down easily. The Raiders went on a 20-6 run to open up the second half and Valparaiso continued to turn the ball away at inopportune times as Wright State took a lead. The Crusaders normally average 14 turnovers per game but struggled with ball control against the Raiders, turning it over a season-high 24 times.
But Crusaders guard Erik Buggs took over when the rest of his team was struggling, leading all scorers with 22 points -- a majority of them scored in the second half. He helped spark a 14-0 run to close out the game and the Crusaders were able to finally put away a very pesky Wright State squad.
The Raiders' bench kept them in the game, led by guard Reggie Arceneaux with 14 points. Wright State had a solid showing from its supporting cast, with 35 of the 50 points coming off of the bench. In the end, it wasn't enough for the Raiders to pull the upset.