VALPARAISO | Coming back from a 22-point deficit to win at Detroit was quite an accomplishment for Valparaiso on Thursday night.
So a seven-point deficit at home against Wright State in a Horizon League first-place battle? No problem.
The Crusaders rallied in the final two minutes for a 69-63 victory over Wright State before 4,860 Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Ryan Broekhoff, who hit the game-winning free throws with 17 seconds remaining in the 89-88 win at Detroit, scored 12 of his 18 points in the last 2:16 to get the Crusaders (15-5, 5-1) over the hump.
"Full credit goes to Wright State's defense," Broekhoff said. "They took me out of the game for most of the game, denied touches. But (my teammates) got me open, and I was lucky enough to knock down some shots and get to the free-throw line."
After trailing 34-30 at the half, Valpo came out firing from long range. Still, the Crusaders trailed 49-42 with 7:55 remaining before starting a comeback.
Broekhoff hit a 3-pointer on the Crusaders' first possession after the break, but didn't score again until he hit another one with 2:16 remaining to get his team within 59-58. He then hit a pair of free throws with 1:28 remaining for a 60-59 advantage, Valpo's first lead since 7-5 early in the game.
His biggest shot of the game was a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining off an assist from Matt Kenney for a 65-61 lead.
They finished it off with a full-court Broekhoff-to-Kenney layup with 17.1 left, and Broekhoff hit two free throws with 4.2 remaining for the final margin.
Kenney finished with 15 points and six assists, while Kevin Van Wijk spent the night battling inside for 18 points and seven rebounds.
"Wright State is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and I think it took us some time to get used to the tempo and pace that they were bringing on offense and defense," Valpo coach Bryce Drew said.
For Wright State, Cole Darling scored 22 points, and Reggie Arceneaux had 14.
Early on, Valpo had trouble defending the Raiders' 3-point shooters. Arceneaux hit two early, and 6-foot-10 forward AJ Pacher stepped out for one. The Raiders started the game 3-for-4 from 3-point range, but finished 3-for-11.
Wright State did its damage inside, as Darling scored 12 of his points in the first half.
The Crusaders had to feel somewhat fortunate to trail by just four at the break, as Broekhoff was held to just three points on a pair of field-goal attempts. But Van Wijk picked up where he had left off in Detroit, where he had a career-high 31, by scoring 14 in the first half.
"Kevin really carried us in the first half," Broekhoff said.
Wright State (13-5, 4-1) had won five in a row. The Raiders are the surprise team in the conference, having been tabbed last in the Horizon League preseason poll.
"Wright State is very good, but I'm really proud of our guys, because they stayed patient, didn't force shots or really rush into things," Drew said. "The guys are self-driven; they're competitors, and I know they're going to keep pushing through."