Turnovers haunt Detroit; Wright State to face Oakland

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The rematch is off.

Needing one more victory to meet rival Oakland in the Horizon League semifinals, Detroit turned the ball over too often and couldn't make a single 3-pointer in falling to Wright State, 82-72, on Sunday evening at Joe Louis Arena.

To the box office's dismay, Wright State (17-12), instead, will meet second-seeded Oakland (21-10) at 9:30 p.m. Monday. The winner of that one will play in the championship game at 7 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN.

The Titans likely have finished their season at 16-15, though coach Ray McCallum said the team is prepared to accept any postseason offer.

"We lost to a good basketball team," McCallum said. "They beat Valpo twice. That tells you something. That tells you how good they are."

This was the third meeting between the teams, which split in the regular season.

Senior Carlton Brundidge, a mainstay in the Detroit basketball scene since his days at Southfield High, had 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting before fouling out late and being greeted by an ambush of hugs on the bench.

One of those fouls was a technical during a first half in which Detroit committed 13 turnovers.

"Our best half of defense," Wright State coach Billy Donlon said.

JT Yoho led Wright State with 20 points, and Michael Karena added 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting, despite his minutes being limited by a second foul in the first half and a third foul early in the second half.

Wright State made its first six shots of the second half.

Daniel Mortensen made a 3-pointer for Wright State with 15:27 left. After another Detroit turnover, Yoho hit a 3-pointer for Wright State to bump the lead to 54-37.

Paris Bass free throws pulled the Titans to 54-45, but Yoho answered with and a jumper and a 3-pointer and Karena made two free throws to help stretch the lead, quieting a decent-sized crowd that was, decidedly and not surprisingly, very pro-Detroit.

The Titans, a young team with just two seniors, never seriously threatened again.

"I just told them to keep working," said one of those seniors, Anton Wilson, who, like Brundidge, received a nice ovation when he exited the game with seconds remaining. "Hard work is always going to pay off."

Detroit didn't again get closer than 10 until Bass made a layup with the and-one with 59.5 seconds left, despite being in the bonus early and making all 15 of its free throws in the second half. That's because Wright State made its free throws, too -- 20 of 26 in the second half.

Like in the opening victory over Youngstown State, Bass didn't start for Detroit because of a violation of team rules. He came in with 13:11 left in the first half, and quickly scored five points to help cut Wright State's lead to six.

After Detroit's Josh McFolley picked up a steal and a fastbreak layup and Brundidge made a tough jumper — taking an inbounds pass, fading away and firing off balance, with 2 seconds on the shot clock — the Titans found themselves within 27-22.

Detroit then made turnovers on its next four possessions and Wright State led, 39-27, at the half. For the game, Detroit had 17 turnovers, five by Brundidge.

"Wright State's a good team," Brundidge said of a team that had the same conference record (13-5) as Oakland, but lost both regular-season meetings. "They got the best of us today."

Bass finished with 24 points — 19 in the second half, to keep the game from getting too out of hand — and 13 rebounds, and Jaleel Hogan scored 11 for the Titans, who averaged more than eight 3-pointers a game during the regular season, but were 0-for-11 from long range in this game.

Chris Jenkins was 0-for-4 on 3-pointers, 2-for-11 overall.

"He had tough defensive assignments," McCallum said of Jenkins, who drew Yoho. "Things didn't really open up for us."

Mark Alstork scored 17 and Joe Thomasson 12 for Wright State.

Green Bay (21-12) beat Milwaukee, 70-61, in Sunday's early game, and will meet regular-season champion Valparaiso (26-5) in the early semifinal Monday.