VALPARAISO, Ind. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - For 39 minutes and 59 seconds, Green Bay (18-15) was on its way to the Horizon League championship game. Then Ryan Broekhoff hit a fallaway, desperation three-pointer at the buzzer to stun the Phoenix 70-69 in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The shot came at the end of a gutty second-half performance by the Phoenix. Sparked by sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.), who tied a career high with 31 points, poured in 21 points in the second half to help Green Bay recover from a 10-point deficit.
Sykes' fourth three-pointer of the half and a jumper in the lane staked Green Bay to a four-point lead (62-58) with 2:42 to play. After free throws and a jump hook by Phoenix junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.), Valparaiso would tie the game at 64 on a Broekhoff three-pointer with 1:14 remaining.
On the next possession, senior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) made a turnaround in the post with 39 seconds to play to give Green Bay a 66-64 lead 39 seconds left.
Matt Kenney missed a three-pointer for Valpo, and Sykes grabbed a rebound in traffic. After Valpo fouled three times to get into the bonus, Sykes went to the line for a one-and-one. The sophomore, who broke the program's single-season record for free throws made, calmly sank two free throws to go ahead 68-64 with 13 seconds to play.
Kenney drilled a three from the right corner with seven seconds to play to close the gap to one point. Brown was fouled on the inbounds, and the junior made the first before the second caromed off the front of the rim.
The Crusaders got the ball to Broekhoff, who dribbled to the top of the arc, fumbled the ball, recovered and made a fadeaway over the outstretched arms of Cougill.
Green Bay trailed 13-4 at the first media timeout, but recovered to take a 22-20 lead with 3:11 to play on a layup from sophomore Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.). The Crusaders scored nine of the last 11 points of the half to lead 29-24 at the break.
The Crusaders jumped out early in the second half and led by 10 points early. Midway through the second half, Valpo was ahead 49-45 after a Broekhoff tip-in. Cougill and Sykes combined for the next 10 points, with Sykes scoring on a three-point play and a long three-pointer to give Green Bay a 55-49 advantage with 7:36 remaining.
Sykes scored 21 of his 31 after halftime, making 11-of-20 shots from the field and 4-of-6 from long range. The All-Horizon League point guard added six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Brown finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Freshman Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) had seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot. The 6-foot-7 wing player has now blocked more shots in a season than any Phoenix player not named Alec Brown. He extended his streak to 22-straight games with at least one block.
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