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Men's basketball: Valpo buries two 3-pointers in final 6.9 seconds to sink UWGB

9:15 AM, Mar. 10, 2013  |  Comments
Valparaiso game-winner to beat UW-Green Bay
Valparaiso game-winner to beat UW-Green Bay: Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff hits a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to defeat UW-Green Bay 70-69 in the Horizon League tournament semifinal Saturday night in Valparaiso. Video courtesy of David Jablonsky/Dayton Daily News
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Six times in the previous 14 years, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men's basketball team reached the semifinals of its conference tournament.

All six times, it went no further.

Make it seven.

But this one was no garden-variety postseason loss. No, this one might sting for years to come.

The fourth-seeded Phoenix played one of its best games of the season on Saturday only to watch top-seeded Valparaiso drain two 3-pointers in the final 6.9 seconds, including the game-winner at the buzzer by Ryan Broekhoff, and swipe away the game, 70-69, in front of 3,285 mostly frenzied fans at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

A night after UWGB (18-15) extended its season on a last-second 3-pointer to beat Illinois-Chicago in the quarterfinals, it lost in the same fashion.

"It's definitely going to stick with us for a while," UWGB junior Alec Brown said. "It's a tough loss. We had the game."

This run of semifinal losses began with a triple-overtime heartbreaker against Butler in 1999. This one, perhaps equally as tough for UWGB to take, will keep the Phoenix out of the NCAA tournament for the 17th straight season.

The Crusaders (25-7) will play third-seeded Wright State (20-11) in Tuesday's championship game here. The Raiders beat second-seeded Detroit on a Miles Dixon baseline jumper at the buzzer in Saturday's first semifinal.

The game got away from the Phoenix in a flash. After Brennan Cougill hit a fadeaway post jumper with 37.9 seconds left, and Keifer Sykes made two free throws with 13.5 seconds to go, UWGB's lead was four. Valpo's Matt Kenney then hit a step-back 3-pointer from the right corner with 6.9 seconds left. Kenney appeared to be close the 3-point line, but the officials never reviewed it.

The Crusaders then fouled Brown with 6.3 seconds left. On his only trip to the line of the night, the junior made the first but missed the second, putting UWGB ahead 69-67. Phoenix coach Brian Wardle elected not to put any rebounders on the blocks and when Brown missed, the Crusaders were able to get the ball up the court quickly.

"That definitely gave us a few more seconds," said Broekhoff, who initially planned to drive all the way to the rim but fumbled the ball near the top of the key and was forced to shoot the 3. "It's hard in that situation. Do you put guys up in case of a miss? The last thing you want to do is foul 90 feet from the basket. Most teams would have played it safe."

Wardle said he remembered when Pittsburgh fouled Butler late in a 2011 NCAA tournament game in that same free-throw situation.

"There's a lot of shoulda, woulda, coulda," Wardle said. "But if we could go back and do anything differently, you look at corralling him better at the half-court line and really trying to get Broekhoff to give the ball up. But again, he lost the ball. It looked like he was going to lose it and heave it up over his head."

Indeed, when Broekhoff fumbled the ball, he had to veer to his right and shoot over Cougill.

"I was trying to get to the rim, and I kind of fumbled it a little bit," said Broekhoff, who had 25 points. "Cougill was on me, and I flung it up and hoped and prayed. I never expected it to go in. It felt terrible coming out of my hands."

As good as Broekhoff was, Sykes might have played better. He matched his career high with 31 points. All but 10 of those came in the second half, when the Phoenix overcame a 10-point deficit to lead 55-49 with 7:35 to go after Sykes hit a long 3 with 2 seconds left on the shot clock. He hit another 3 to keep the lead at four with 3:50 to go and added a long 2 to do the same with 2:40 left.

"I had some opportunities to score, and a few went down," Sykes said. "I had a few shots at the shot clock go in, and I was just feeling pretty good."

But that feeling escaped as soon as Valpo celebrated wildly, reminiscent of their coach Bryce Drew's reaction after his famous game-winning shot in the 1998 NCAA tourney.

"There's no doubt we let this one get away," Wardle said.

UWGB (17-15)
min fg-a ft-a rb a pf tp
Mays 17 2-4 0-0 1-4 0 2 4
Fouse 32 3-5 1-3 3-9 3 4 7
Brown 35 7-12 1-2 4-6 2 3 15
Muhammad 32 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 1 3
Sykes 39 11-20 5-7 0-5 6 2 31
Love 13 0-2 0-0 0-1 2 2 0
Stefan 16 1-2 0-0 0-1 3 0 3
Cougill 16 3-5 0-0 0-3 3 4 6
Totals 200 28-53 7-12 8-30 20 18 69

Percentages: FG .528, FT .583. 3-point goals: 6-14, .429 (Sykes 4-6, Stefan 1-2, Muhammad 1-2, Cougill 0-1, Love 0-1, Brown 0-2). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 3 (Cougill 2, Fouse). Turnovers: 9 (Sykes 3, Cougill 2, Mays, Muhammad, Brown, Stefan). Steals: 5 (Sykes 2, Love 2, Cougill).

VALPARAISO (25-7)
min fg-a ft-a rb a pf tp
Broekhoff 35 8-13 4-5 1-6 4 3 25
Van Wijk 24 6-10 5-5 1-5 1 0 17
Buggs 36 4-7 0-2 1-6 3 3 8
Kenney 33 4-8 4-8 0-1 5 2 14
Bogan 30 0-5 1-2 0-1 2 1 1
Boggs 12 0-1 0-0 1-3 0 2 0
Fernandez 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Dority 15 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 3
Capobianco 14 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 0 2
Totals 200 24-48 14-22 6-26 16 12 70

Percentages: FG .500, FT .636. 3-point goals: 8-19, .421 (Broekhoff 5-9, Kenney 2-5, Dority 1-1, Buggs 0-1, Bogan 0-3). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 1 (Van Wijk). Turnovers: 8 (Broekhoff 3, Van Wijk 2, Bogan, Capobianco, Buggs). Steals: 5 (Van Wijk 2, Broekhoff, Buggs, Kenney).

UWGB 24 45 - 69
Valparaiso 29 41 - 70

Attendance: 3,285.

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