National Basketball Association
Valparaiso 72, Brigham Young 70
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Officials: # Pat Driscoll, # John Gaffney, # Brian O'Connell
Attendance: 10292

NEW YORK -- Once Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew found out his team wasn't selected for the NCAA Tournament, he started focusing on the positives of playing in the National Invitation Tournament.

"Our goals shifted to this tournament (NIT) and it's been sensational," Drew said. "It's better than going to the first round of the (NCAA) tournament and losing."

Valparaiso, the Horizon League champs, survived a frenzied ending on Tuesday to knock off BYU 72-70 in the semifinals of the NIT at Madison Square Garden.

The Crusaders saw their 16-point lead early in the second half evaporate against a pesky BYU squad who didn't take a lead in the game until there was 4:26 to play.

Valparaiso (30-6) will meet George Washington (27-10) in the final on Thursday.

The Crusaders received 15 points each from Alec Peters and David Skara. Keith Carter added 13 points.

BYU (26-11) received 20 points from Kyle Collinsworth and 18 points from Nick Emery.

A basket from BYU's Chase Fischer cut the Crusader lead to 71-70 with seven seconds left, but after a free throw from Valpo's Shane Hammink made it 72-70, BYU's attempt at a 3-pointer as time expired was blocked by Hammink a good distance from the basket.

"Once we got selected to be in the NIT we were thrilled to get a No. 1 seed, to get three home games, which was tremendous.

"We set a record attendance crowd in our last home game and our path and our goal has been to get to New York and win the NIT."

The Crusaders are one step away from their first NIT title thanks in part to Skara, a sophomore reserve from Croatia.

After Hammink sank one of two free throws to tie it at 68-68 with 1:04 to play, Skara's 3-pointer put the Crusaders ahead 71-68 with 20 seconds left.

"We were all excited, getting here and playing on the big stage at Madison Square Garden," Skara said. "I knew getting in there and putting a maximum effort was really important."

After the Crusaders took a 68-67 lead, BYU scored the next four points to move ahead 68-67 with 1:19 remaining.

A traditional three-point play from Collinsworth gave BYU its first lead of the game, 64-63, with 4:26 to play.

A layup from Fischer with 5:43 to play brought BYU to within 63-59 and Collinsworth's drive cut the deficit to 63-61 with 4:53 to go.

The Cougars sliced the Crusaders lead to 50-46 at the 14:13 mark of the second half thanks to a 13-2 flurry. Emery and Collinsworth scored four points each in the run, but BYU went on a scoring drought for the next 2:30, committing three turnovers which led to four points by the Crusaders.

"We were really aggressive defensively," said BYU coach David Rose. "I really thought their (Valpo) pace where they were trying to milk some clock and make a play late in the shot clock kind of helped us in the fact that we could kind of shrink that thing down to where it was about a seven or eight second possession.

"We became pretty successful in transition."

Darien Walker and Alec Peters scored 10 first-half points apiece to help the Crusaders to a 44-30 lead the break. The teams combined for 25 turnovers in the half.

Valparaiso grabbed its biggest lead of the half, 42-27, after a free throw from E. Victor Nickerson.

A 3-pointer from Keith Carter gave Valparaiso a 34-20 cushion.

The Crusaders led 20-10 before the Cougars went on an 8-3 run. Emery accounted for five of those points.

The teams combined for 16 turnovers and 12 fouls in the first nine minutes.

NOTES: Valparaiso committed a season-high 20 turnovers. ... BYU and Valparaiso met for the third time. The teams split the previous two games in the 1940s. ... BYU's entered the night ranked sixth in the country in scoring average at 84 points per game. Valparaiso was third in the nation in field-goal-percentage defense (38.3 percent) and ninth in scoring defense (62.2 points per game). ... Former Cougars G Jimmer Fredette visited with the team Sunday in New York City. Fredette currently plays for the Westchester (N.Y.) Knicks of the NBA Development League. ... Valparaiso C Vashil Fernandez leads the nation in blocked shots with an average of 3.26 a game. He blocked three shots on Tuesday and Shane Hammink blocked five. ... BYU coach Dave Rose was a co-captain for Houston's "Phi Slama Jama" team that went to the 1983 NCAA Tournament final, where it lost to North Carolina State.
Top Game Performances
Brigham Young   Valparaiso
Kyle Collinsworth 20 Scoring Alec Peters 15
Kyle Collinsworth 5 Assists Shane Hammink 5
Kyle Davis 8 Rebounds Alec Peters 9
Nick Emery 5 Free Throws Made Shane Hammink 3
Kyle Collinsworth 5 Steals Shane Hammink 3
Zac Seljaas 3 Blocks Shane Hammink 5
Team Stats Summary
Team Points FG% 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals Turnovers
Brigham Young 70 38.2 7-21 11-17 8 39 8 16 18
Valparaiso 72 42.6 11-28 9-17 18 35 8 9 20