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UAB tops Utah Valley in NIT semi-finals

APTOPIX NIT Utah Valley UAB Basketball
Posted at 11:04 PM, Mar 28, 2023

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ty Brewer had a career-high 30 points with 12 rebounds and five steals, Eric Gaines scored seven of his 13 points in overtime and UAB beat Utah Valley 88-86 on Tuesday night to set up an all-Conference USA final in the NIT.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers (29-9) will face North Texas for the fourth time this season on Thursday for the NIT championship. UAB lost to North Texas twice in the regular season before winning 76-69 on March 10 to advance to its second straight conference tournament championship game.

Gaines scored UAB’s opening five points of overtime and Trey Jemison added a putback for an 81-76 lead. Gaines also made a contested shot in the lane to make it 83-78.

Brewer sank a jumper from the free-throw line to put UAB ahead 85-83 with 46 seconds left. After a timeout, Utah Valley was forced into a contested 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer that did not hit the rim. Jordan Walker was fouled and made two free throws for a four-point lead.

After Utah Valley made a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left, Walker sank a free throw before missing the second with 0.8 left. The Wolverines' full-court heave at the buzzer went over the backboard.

Walker finished with 17 points on 5-of-23 shooting for UAB.

UAB scored the opening eight points of the game, with six from Brewer, and led until Utah Valley took its first lead, 62-61, with 8:13 remaining in regulation following a 10-2 run.

Utah Valley guard Trey Woodbury made two free throws with 1:52 left in regulation and he sank a floater in the lane to tie it at 74-all at 33.9. Walker had two chances to break the tie, but he was short on a jumper and his runner bounced off to send it to overtime.

Woodbury and Justin Harmon each scored 16 points for Utah Valley (28-9). Woodbury also had 11 rebounds and six assists. Aziz Bandaogo had 14 points and six rebounds and Tim Fuller, averaging 6.6 points per game, added 14 points and eight boards.