OMAHA, Neb. -- Dave Hoppen sank a basket and a technical free throw with 11 seconds remaining to give Nebraska a 56-54 victory over Creighton Thursday night in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Nebraska trailed 54-52 and was working for a last shot to tie the game and force an overtime in the closing seconds. The Cornhuskers got the ball on the low left post to the 6-foot-11 Hoppen, who wheeled into the lane but had his initial shot attempt slapped back into his hands.
Hoppen went right back up with the ball and shoveled it into the basket with a two-handed scoop shot to tie the game. Creighton center Benoit Benjamin argued that Hoppen traveled and slammed the basketball into the floor.
Big Ten officials working the game immediately slapped a technical foul against the 7-foot center and Hoppen sank the free throw to give his Big Eight Cornhuskers a 55-54 lead.
Because of the technical foul, Nebraska was also awarded possession of the ball and Creighton had to foul twice to get the Cornhuskers into a bonus free-throw situation. Curtis Moore finally went to the line with three seconds left and sank one of two free throws to earn Nebraska a second-round game Monday night at Xavier.
A final desperation Creighton shot at the buzzer never drew iron and the Missouri Valley Blue Jays closed their season with a 17-14 record. It was only their fifth loss at home this season, with the other four coming against NCAA Tournament teams DePaul, Dayton, Tulsa and Illinois State.
Hoppen scored a game-high 25 points and David Ponce 10 as Nebraska, which placed fourth in the 1983 NIT Tournament, improved to 18-11. The win also kept Creighton Coach Willis Reed winless in four tries against his intrastate rival.
The technical foul spoiled a magnificent performance by Benjamin, who finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Vernon Moore added 14 points and fellow guard Gary Swain 10 for the Blue Jays.
Hoppen scored Nebraska's first six points and 14 of the first 22.