IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Chauncey Leslie wanted the last shot and
so did Valparaiso. The Crusaders just couldn't do anything to stop
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 Owens Corning 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
"That's what a senior has got to do. He stepped it up in a big
game,'' Alford said.
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. During the
ensuing timeout, Valparaiso coach Scott Drew schemed to stop every
scoring option but Leslie's off-balance heroics.
"We just didn't have anyone who could keep up with Leslie,''
Drew said. "The shot that he made, if you ask me going into that
timeout that this is the shot he's going to shoot to win the game,
I would have said, `All right, let's see if he makes it.'"
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
The toughest part of the loss was that it was the last game for
six seniors who had helped the Crusaders get to three NCAA
tournaments in the last four years, Drew said.
"They didn't want to put up the uniform, didn't want it to be
their last game,'' Drew said. "We got a lot of heart and effort
out there from them. Iowa just won the game.''
Iowa led 32-29 at the break and stretched it to five points in
the opening minutes of the second half, when Leslie scored on a
But Joaquim Gomes, who had just two points in the opening half,
tied it at 36 by scoring seven straight points in a 1:14 span.
The lead traded hands five times in the next five minutes before
Greg Tonagel hit a long jumper to put Valparaiso up 44-43 with
12:39 to go.
Minutes later, Ortiz hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to
extend the lead to 50-45, the Crusaders' largest of the second
But Iowa, led by Leslie, went on a 12-2 run that put the
Hawkeyes up 57-52 with 5:02 to go. Leslie hit a 3-pointer, then
split four defenders on a fast break during that stretch.
"It was two teams that mirrored one another in how hard they
compete,'' Alford said. "You just had two guys just punching each
other and punching each other, and nobody dropped. It was just a
great college basketball game.''
The Hawkeyes could play in-state rival Iowa State next week if
the Cyclones beat Wichita State in their first-round game