VALPARAISO | Valparaiso saw its season come to an end in the cruelest of ways of Tuesday night.
Maodo Lo knocked down a game-winning jumper at the buzzer to give Columbia a 58-56 win at the Athletics-Recreation Center in the first round of the CollegeInsider tournament.
The loss marks the fourth straight year the Crusaders have lost in the first round of their respective postseason tournament. Valparaiso hasn’t won a postseason game since beating Washington in the first round of the CBI in 2008.
“You hate to lose games and you hate to lose them even more at the buzzer,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “You have to give Lo credit. He hit a tough shot. I was proud of our effort, but Columbia deserved to win the game. They hit the shots and we didn’t make the shots when we needed them.”
The Lions ended the game on a 6-1 run as Cory Osetkowski hit a mid-range jumper with just over a minute remaining to give the Lions a 56-55 lead. The basket gave the junior a career-high 21 points.
Vashil Fernandez had a chance to give the Crusaders a lead with 27.8 seconds remaining, but the junior split a pair of free throws, setting up Lo’s game-winning heroics.
The officials went to the monitor to confirm the shot beat the clock, but the Crusaders were already on their way to the locker room by the time Bo Boroski signaled the shot was good.
“I didn’t pay attention to the buzzer or the referees,” VU's Lavonte Dority said. “He hit a tough shot. Give him credit.”
Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 14 points while Dority scored eight points in his final collegiate game. Moussa Gueye added seven points and six rebounds while setting the single-season record for blocks with 71. The Alabama transfer had four blocks on Tuesday night.
The Crusaders finished their season with an 18-16 record and will return a strong nucleus next season, led by Peters and a batch of underclassmen.
“Anytime you lose a game you have the same feeling,” Peters said. “Your heart gets heavy. I already have that feeling that we want to get right back at it. We don’t want to be in this position again. We want to be in the NCAA tournament next year, for the next three years as long as I’m here. This really puts a fire in the stomach.”