Julian Hammond III hit a layup 20 seconds left and Colorado survived a poor-shooting night to defeat Seton Hall 65-64 in their first-round game of the NIT in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday night.
Jalen Gabbidon drew a crowd and passed to Hammond, who had an easy path to the bucket for the third-seeded Buffaloes (18-16). Colorado shot only 38.9 percent, although it hit 10 of 18 3-pointers.
Ethan Wright scored a season-high 18 points, including 4 of 6 3-pointers, to lead the Buffaloes, who will play the winner of the New Mexico-Utah Valley game, which is set for Wednesday night.
Tristan da Silva finished with 15 points for Colorado, although he made just 5 of 16 from the field. Hammond scored 10 points, and Luke O’Brien had eight points and 14 rebounds.
KC Ndefo netted 18 points, also his season high, for Seton Hall (17-16). Ndefo’s three-point play gave the Pirates a 64-63 lead with 32 seconds left, but Colorado scored after a timeout. Seton Hall’s last gasp ended when Femi Odukale missed a layup with three seconds left and Wright ended up with the rebound.
The Pirates’ Tyrese Samuel scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and finished with 11 rebounds, and Al-Amir Dawes added 13 points.
Seton Hall shot just 36.7 percent but couldn’t match Colorado’s long-range success, hitting just 4 of 18.
Colorado played its fourth straight game without its second-leading scorer, KJ Simpson (15.9 points per game), who was diagnosed with mononucleosis.
After trailing by six at halftime, Seton Hall found its shooting stroke, tying the game at 40-40 on Samuel’s dunk with 14:18 to play.
The Pirates opened up a five-point lead, but Colorado knotted the game at 51-51 on O’Brien’s layup with 8:09 left.
The Buffaloes warmed up enough in the first half to hit four of their final five 3-point attempts and lead 33-27 at the break. They shot 38.5 percent but 55.6 percent (5 of 9) from long range. Wright nailed 3 of 5 treys and led all scorers with 13 in the half.
Dawes scored eight to lead Seton Hall, which shot only 24.2 percent from the floor and 18.2 percent (2 of 11) from behind the arc.
–Field Level Media