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Detroit Mercy lost its first 26 games of the season. Maybe the Titans were due. Maybe they were just the better team. Or maybe it was the five masses the school held on Ash Wednesday. But that streak did not reach 27. Detroit Mercy beat IUPUI 81-66 last night, improving its record to 1-26.

“We’ve been kind of struggling lately,” Jayden Stone told the ESPN+ broadcast. “And we’ve just been remaining humble, and staying faithful, and I’m just grateful to God for the win.” There's a lesson here: Show humility during a 26-game losing streak, and the Lord will be merciful.

After the game, there was a massive celebration—or, anyway, one man stormed the court. One guy that we know of, that is, as cameras cut away just when it started to look like a second guy was about to join him. Perhaps this was actually a two-man celebration on the court. The game was also the program's first home game since the unexpected death of Earl “The Twirl” Cureton, who starred for the University of Detroit in the 1970s (the school merged with Mercy College of Detroit in 1990). “Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Earl ‘The Twirl’ That Win Was For You,” the school’s sports website wrote.

Mercy’s entire offense runs through Stone, who is the Horizon League’s top scorer with 20.7 points a game. He also leads Mercy in assists, though he only has 60, or 2.2 a game. The Titans’ offense plays pretty slow, and their 10.2 assists per game as a team is 350th in the NCAA. As expected for a team that is now 1-26, many of their stats are at the bottom of Division I.

Stone led Mercy with 25 points last night. But the Titans jumped out to an 11-0 lead mostly thanks to Marcus Tankersley, who opened the game with a jumper, assisted on a three a minute later, and had a steal-and-layup on the next possession. When IUPUI cut the margin to eight with about five minutes left in the game, Tankersley drew a foul and hit two free throws to bump the lead back up to double digits. He finished with 19 points.

The casino shills and the gambling degenerates noted this game yesterday for a reason: Detroit Mercy was favored by between five and six points against IUPUI, which is now 6-21 after the loss. That seemed strange, given that IUPUI beat Mercy by 12 at home earlier in the season and also because Mercy hadn’t beaten anyone by any margin since the season started. Look a little closer, though, and it made sense. The game was in Detroit. Recorded attendance was just 611, but only one team had to take a 4.5-hour bus ride to the game. Three of IUPUI’s wins came against non-Division I programs—I watched the first, which was literally the first game of the college basketball season, and another non-Division I win came in OT. Detroit is bad, too, but it also played one of the tougher non-conference schedules in the country. The Titans lost to Mississippi on the road by just a point back in November.

This season has been a rapid descent for Mercy, which was in the news last year because fifth-year senior Antoine Davis finished just four points short of breaking Pete Maravich’s all-time NCAA Division I men’s scoring record. (Maravich’s son got angry when the CBI considered including Detroit, which finished 14-19 last year, in the tournament field. The offer was not extended in the end.) Davis ended his college career—he’s with the Rip City Remix, Portland’s G League team—and a few other seniors left, which added up to a very different Detroit Mercy this season. The transition has not been a smooth one. As the Detroit News’ Tony Paul wrote earlier this year:

“Shitstorm,” is how Mike Davis Jr., an assistant coach and the head coach's son, described what's transpired this season, in which Detroit Mercy has been sacked with a number of key injuries, academic-eligibility issues, multiple players quitting, a pivotal passport problem, and the all-too-often lack of participation at practice. Practices sometimes are three-on-three, and when there are enough players for five-on-five, there's often only one sub available, if there's even one.

In the same story, Tankersley said guys just didn’t play the way Davis wanted them to. “Our biggest problem is not everyone bought into coach’s system,” he said. This was not the only problem. Stone missed games with an ankle injury. Alex Tchikou was ineligible until a court put a stay on certain NCAA transfer rules, and by then Tchikou was stuck in France and couldn’t get back. “Your head should be down when you haven't given the effort it takes to win,” Davis told the News. “I can’t be mad if my wife leaves me if I ain’t working and I ain't paying no bills.”

No Division I team has had a winless full season since Grambling State went 0-28 in 2012-13. One candidate still remains this year: Mississippi Valley State is 0-24 and has seven more games, plus a SWAC tournament game, to join Detroit Mercy in the one-win club. I'm not sure what kind of omen it is if the Delta Devils win a game during Lent. Probably best not to think about it.

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