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NIT Iowa slips past Valpo, 61-60, in first contest



Published: Fri, March 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Crusaders couldn't stop Chauncey Leslie, who made the winning shot.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Chauncey Leslie wanted the last shot and so did Valparaiso. The Crusaders just couldn't do anything to stop him.

With Iowa down 60-59 and 30 seconds to go, Leslie got the ball on the wing, knifed to the paint and banged into an opponent before pulling up and firing the game-winning basket off the glass.

Valparaiso's Stalin Ortiz missed a shot from the baseline and the rebound bounced off the hands of a teammate and out of bounds. Iowa's Jeff Horner then made one of two free throws, and the Hawkeyes (16-13) advanced to next week's second round of the NIT with a 62-60 victory Monday night.

"Of course I want the ball as a senior," said Leslie, who had 15 points and five assists.

Steve Alford praised Leslie for showing the kind of leadership that has been absent in several close games down the stretch this season.

"That's what a senior has got to do. He stepped it up in a big game," Alford said.

First-ever meeting

The first-ever meeting between the teams was a seesaw struggle throughout. Valparaiso built an 11-point lead early in the opening half, but neither team enjoyed a double-digit lead the rest of the way. In the second half alone, the teams had three ties and 10 lead changes in the final 14 minutes.

Valparaiso (20-11) took a 60-59 lead when Antti Nikkila followed a missed shot underneath with 30.9 seconds to go.

Iowa got 11 points each from Jared Reiner, Sean Sonderleiter and Brody Boyd. Reiner, who also had 10 rebounds, was held scoreless until 6:14 remained, when he gave Iowa a 54-52 lead.

Iowa shot 50 percent and outrebounded the Crusaders 34-26.

Ortiz led Valparaiso (20-11) with 14 points and four steals. Miguel Ali Berdiel added 13 points as the Crusaders shot 46.3 percent from the floor, but just 21.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc.




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