2003 NIT 2003 NIT
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Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 1:35 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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Iowa 62, Valparaiso 60
VALPARAISO CRUSADERS
Valparaiso Crusaders
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IOWA HAWKEYES
Iowa Hawkeyes
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (Ticker) -- Chauncey Leslie scored 15 points, including the go-ahead basket with 11.4 seconds left, as Iowa edged Valparaiso, 62-60, in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.

The Hawkeyes (16-13) will face Iowa State or Wichita State in the first round.

Iowa had not made a basket in more than five minutes and was trailing by a point when Leslie cut into the lane and put a jumper off the glass to give the Hawkeyes a 61-60 lead.

"I told Chauncey that he had to make a play at the end," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "I think he scored 13 points in the second half. That is what a senior has to do, and he really stepped it up."

"We didn't have anyone who could keep up with Leslie," Valparaiso coach Scott Drew admitted. "That shot he made at the end was a tough shot. If we'd have known ahead of time that was the shot he was going to take, we'd have said, `Let's just see if he can make it.'"

Jared Reiner had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Jeff Horner chipped in seven assists as Iowa secured just its fifth win in 15 games. Brody Boyd and Sean Sonderleiter added 11 points apiece off the bench.

"We knew that this was going to be a difficult game, and it proved to be," Alford said. "I thought both teams mirrored each other on how tough they can play."

The Hawkeyes bounced back after being eliminated by Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament.

Stalin Ortiz paced Valparaiso with 17 points, but the Crusaders (20-11) closed their season with back-to-back losses. They were beaten by IUPUI in the championship game of the Mid-Continent Conference.

"We had six seniors out there tonight," Drew said. "We got a lot of effort out of them. They didn't want to take off their jerseys for the last time."

The Crusaders were forced to play the final 4:14 without leading scorer Raitis Grafs, who fouled out after contributing just nine points.


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