The 2013 Horizon League tournament was full of drama and fun, so it was fitting that the final provided both to those in attendance and watching at home. Valpo took home the title and the automatic bid that goes with it in a 62-54 win over Wright State.
Valpo fans can thank Erik Bruggs and his 22 points for helping this win happen from the jaws of defeat as he led all scorers in the game.
If you were like some and turned it off after Valpo routed the Raiders in the first half, up 36-25, you could be forgiven. On the other hand you missed one of the craziest finishes to one of the craziest tournaments this season.
Why? That's because Wright State, down 11 at the half, went nuts to start the 2nd half. In fact they went on a 22-6 run, eliminating the Valpo lead in under 8 minutes, and taking their own lead at 45-42 with 9:28 remaining in the game.
It would stay close for the rest of the half with the Raiders taking their largest lead of the night at 50-44 with just 5:42 left and the momentum clearly on their side.
But, hey this is the Horizon League tournament and anything and everything goes. So, instead of Wright State taking it to the home Crusaders, Valpo dug down deep and found a way to overcome the deficit and get to the point where the final minute was a foul and pray situation for Wright State.
Their prayers weren't answered as Valpo calmly sunk 8 of the final 8 free throws in the last 53 seconds of the game to seal it away and let the court storming begin.
With the win the Crusaders are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since a 2004 appearance. I wonder how many times we'll see Bryce Drew's shot this year.... Since he's their head coach and all now.