For some, it was redemption. For others it was just a party.

Two years after falling just short of their goal at Madison Square Garden, a Minnesota team made up of veterans from that game and new faces this season made good on a second chance.

The Gophers gained control of a back-and-forth contest in the final seconds Thursday night, pushing to the finish on a flurry of transition shots and a couple of big shots. Senior guard Austin Hollins hit the biggest one, a three-pointer with 46.1 seconds remaining, to help the Gophers beat SMU 65-63 to win the NIT championship.

“I can’t even describe it,” Austin Hollins said afterward of his last shot. “It’s indescribable.”

The game wasn’t settled until the final buzzer. After Austin Hollins’ three-pointer, both junior guard Andre Hollins and SMU guard Nic Moore clanked on one of two free throws. Moore converted a layup with six seconds remaining to cut Minnesota’s lead to 63-62, but Andre Hollins made his final two shots from the line with four seconds left and the Gophers fouled to take away any chance of a Hail Mary, score-tying three-pointer, like the one that burned them against Florida State in the semifinals.

Austin Hollins finished with a game-high 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting and added four steals. Andre Hollins added 14 points and DeAndre Mathieu had 13 points and seven assists for the Gophers (25-13), who set an official school record for victories in a season.

“It’s huge,” Andre Hollins said. “I would have been devastated if we lost this game, knowing that we had two opportunities. Not a lot of people have two opportunities to win championships and hang a banner at Williams [Arena].”

The Gophers’ interior game was all but absent for most of the contest, but at first it seemed it wouldn’t much matter. Minnesota was knocking down just about every shot it wanted from the outside in the early going, allowing for a 30-27 halftime lead despite SMU’s similarly hot offensive push.

After their early shooting touch cooled in the second, the Gophers trailed 53-46 with 5:53 to go — the Mustangs’ largest lead to that point — when Minnesota started to string together a final push.

Layups by Mathieu and Austin Hollins were capped by Mo Walker spinning in the paint for his first basket of the game to put the Gophers back in a 553-53 tie with 4:37 remaining, setting up the back-and-forth battle until Hollins’ kicker.

“The guys were working extremely hard and they just didn’t quit,” Austin Hollins said. “We played with a lot of heart and a lot of toughness and we were able to come back.”