UDM surprises Cleveland State for much-needed victory

BY foxsports • February 7, 2011

The Detroit News

Feb. 8, 2011

DETROIT -- It's what has been missing this season for Detroit Mercy; a signature victory.

UDM proved it could play with league's best on Monday as it defeated first-place Cleveland State 81-78 at Calihan Hall to tighten up the Horizon League race.

Detroit (14-12, 8-6) remains in sixth place but the Titans are a half-game behind Butler (16-9, 8-5) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (13-11, 8-5), which are tied for fourth. Cleveland State (21-5, 10-4), Valparaiso (17-7, 9-3) and Wright State (17-9, 10-4) are in a virtual tie for first.

Nick Minnerath scored a career-high 26 points to lead Detroit. Eli Holman came off the bench for 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Chris Blake, starting in the place of John Calliste (suffered head injury Saturday), had 13 points and Ray McCallum, Jr., had nine points and seven assists.

"No doubt about it, that was our biggest win," Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. "They're atop the league. We put it together. The turnovers (11) were down. The assists (15) were up and we won the rebounding game (30-24)."

"It's been a learning experience. We've been involved in some close games. A possession or two has held us back."

Holman, a starter most of the season, made a number of big plays down the stretch. His put-back with 4:18 left gave Detroit the lead for good, 68-67. His jump hook gave the Titans a 74-71 lead with 1:20 remaining and 15 seconds later, after a Chase Simon steal, Holman got his fourth offensive rebound and scored for a 76-71 lead. His two free throws with eight seconds left gave Detroit a 79-75 lead.

"We made a stand, a pact, after we lost at Green Bay (Jan. 30)," Holman said. "We said trust in each other will be a big thing the rest of the season."

The Titans have won three straight since.

Cleveland State took it to Detroit early as it led 29-19 prompting McCallum to call his second timeout of the half with 8:58 left. The Titans regrouped and tied the game at 39 at halftime. Minnerath scored the last six points, the last two on a 15-footer with an assist to Simon.

Minnerath had four dunks, all on alley-oop passes, two from McCallum and two from Donavan Foster.

Norris Cole led the Vikings with 27 points. Aaron Pogue and Jeremy Montgomery each added 15.

Four of Detroit's final five regular season games are on the road beginning Thursday at Valparaiso.

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