NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt got 24 points from Jordan Wright and, by and large, controlled the second half in an 82-71 victory over Belmont on Tuesday at Memorial Gymnasium in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.
Vandy led the final 3:46 after Belmont’s last-gasp effort to tie the score at 65-65. The Commodores (18-16) advance to face Dayton (23-10) or Toledo (26-7) ; the date, time and location of that game are yet to be determined.
Vanderbilt had an eight-point lead with less than eight minutes to play but saw that margin sliced to 64-61 with 5:18 remaining and then 65-63 with 4:48 left.
Nick Muszynski tied the score at 65 right before Rodney Chatman drained a triple from the right corner to end a 9-2 Bruins run. And Belmont couldn’t muster a comeback from there.
Will Richard had 22 points for Belmont, which saw its season end at 25-8.
Liam Robbins chipped in 14 for the Commodores. Chatman and Scotty Pippen Jr. each finished with 10 points, and Quentin Millora-Brown brought in 13 rebounds.
The victory was Vanderbilt’s first in the postseason since the 2015 NIT.
Belmont got off to a hot start Tuesday by making seven of its first 10 shots-including all three triples-to roar out to a 17-10 lead. A three-point play from Richard put the Bruins up 22-12, and Michael Shanks’ layup made it 24-12.
Down 32-21, Vanderbilt went on a 10-0 run in less than 2 1/2 minutes-getting six straight points by Wright in the process-to make it a one-point game. The Commodores finally took their first lead when Millora-Brown threw up a putback at the horn making it 39-38.
Vandy got 15 points from Wright in the first 20 minutes and held a 22-13 rebounding advantage. The Bruins shot 50 percent and collected 10 assists on 15 made field goals.
Wright’s layup early in the second half allowed Vanderbilt to stretch its lead to 46-43, and Millora-Brown’s putback minutes later made it 51-46. Belmont fought back to tie the score at 52 on a Grayson Murphy layup.
Vandy mustered a 7-2 run and took a 59-54 lead on a tough Tyrin Lawrence runner. A long Wright 3 from the straightaway gave the Dores a 64-56 advantage with 7:55 to go.
Though the Bruins managed to tie it up with nearly four minutes left, they ran out of gas and Vanderbilt prevailed in the end.
- Pippen Jr. (1,517) is now 12th on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. Jeff Fosnes (1,579) is 11th.
- Pippen Jr. has 676 points this season, the fourth-most in a single Vanderbilt season and the third-most by a junior in a single Vanderbilt season.
- Pippen could still become the first SEC player to average at least 20 points per game in consecutive seasons since Ronnie Henderson of LSU did so from 1994-96.
- Pippen now has the eighth-most steals in a Vanderbilt career with 139.
- Jeffery Taylor is seventh with 146. Wright has now started 39 straight games for Vanderbilt.
- The Commodores are now 6-1 all-time against Belmont with the Bruins’ lone win coming in 2017 at Belmont.
- The Commodores are now 14-4 this season when leading at halftime, 11-2 when scoring at least 75 points and 16-8 when shooting at least 40 percent.
- Attendance on Tuesday was announced as 7,773.