Valparaiso beat BYU, 72-70, in the NIT semifinal at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, racing out to a 44-30 halftime lead and holding on at the end.
David Skara hit a late three to seal the win for the Crusaders, while 6-7 guard Shane Hammink finished with 10 points, five assists, five blocks, three steals and three rebounds.
“It was a good game,” Hammink said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think everybody’s just happy we got the win and are able to play in the finals on Thursday. That’s all we’re looking forward to right now.”
No. 1 Valpo (30-6) plays No. 4 George Washington (27-10) in the NIT Championship on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.
The Crusaders have beaten Texas Southern, Florida State, Saint Mary’s and now BYU in their march to the final.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Hammink said. “We’re a great team. I think we can beat anybody in the country. That’s just how we go into games every day. We end up coming out with the win.”
After getting snubbed by the committee on Selection Sunday, Valpo, which is 20-3 over its last 23 games, is happy to be performing well in the NIT.
“Yeah, we definitely thought we should have been in the NCAA Tournament and we were a little upset that we weren’t,” Hammink said. “But the NIT is also a great tournament and we’re in here, so we might as well try and win it.”