ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) – Anthony Drejaj hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Saint Louis a 70-69 comeback victory over Iowa in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
Drejaj scored 23 points and Chris Sloan had 16 to lead Saint Louis (19-12), which trailed by 18 in the first half.
Pierre Pierce gave Iowa a 69-67 lead on a driving layup with 5 seconds left, but Sloan found Drejaj with a pass in the right corner for the winning shot.
Drejaj went 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
Jeff Horner led Iowa (16-13) with 17 points, and Pierce added 16. Iowa outrebounded Saint Louis 39-22 and outshot the Billikens 53 percent to 42 percent.
Making its fifth NIT appearance, Iowa fell to 4-5. Saint Louis made its 18th NIT appearance and improved to 19-16. Iowa leads the series between the schools 9-7.
The game was tied twice late after Iowa led throughout.
With the score even at 63, Greg Brunner’s dunk put the Hawkeyes ahead. Pierce then hit a layup to make it 67-63 with 1:11 showing.
But the Billikens came back to tie it. Drejaj hit a layup with 58 seconds to go, then made a steal and got fouled. He hit both free throws to tie it at 67 with 22 seconds to play.
Saint Louis had tied it at 63 on a layup by Sloan to cap a 6-0 run with 2:08 to play.
The Billikens outscored Iowa 15-4 to cut the Hawkeyes’ lead to 54-52 with 9:14 remaining. Drejaj hit two 3-pointers in the run and freshman Darren Clarke added four points.
Glen Worley made back-to-back layups to give Iowa a 58-52 lead with 8:14 to play. Saint Louis trimmed it to 58-56 on a basket by Sloan with 5:14 remaining.
Iowa took charge early, scoring 10 straight points for a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes.
Two technical fouls helped the Hawkeyes. The first one was called on Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg. Horner hit two free throws and Worley made a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
Later, the Billikens got a technical for having too many players on the court. Horner connected on both free throws.
A 3-pointer by Pierce gave Iowa its largest lead of the first half at 29-11 with 9:03 left. It was the last field goal of the half for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes made six of seven free throws.
Saint Louis cut the lead to 31-24 with 5:14 remaining on a driving layup by Drejaj.
Iowa led 35-26 at halftime. In the first half, the Hawkeyes made 14 of 16 free throws and outrebounded Saint Louis 26-15. The Billikens made six of nine free throws and shot just 27 percent (9-of-33) from the floor.
Iowa made 42 percent (10-of-24) of its field goal attempts.