SALT LAKE CITY — What was he thinking?
Northwestern got its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, 68-66 over Vanderbilt, after Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably grabbed Wildcats guard Bryant McIntosh on purpose, sending McIntosh to the free throw line for the go-ahead points with 15 seconds left.
Riley LaChance made a layup with 18 seconds remaining in Thursday’s game to put the ninth-seeded Commodores up by one after trailing by as many as 15.
But seconds after the in-bounds pass, Fisher-Davis reached out and grabbed McIntosh while he was in the backcourt. That put eighth-seeded Northwestern in the double bonus, and McIntosh went to the line and calmly swished the free throws with 15 seconds left.
LaChance missed a 3 on the next possession and eighth-seeded Northwestern (24-11) got another free throw.
Fisher-Davis heaved a desperation shot at the buzzer, but it missed, and he sunk his head and reached down to his shoes in despair.
McIntosh led the Wildcats with 25 points, none more important than those that came on his only two free throws of the night.
Fisher-Davis led Vanderbilt with 22 points, including a 3-pointer during a 12-0 run that kept Vanderbilt in it after falling behind by 15 with 13 minutes left.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame, whose son plays for the Wildcats, was in the stands.
Northwestern will play top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round of the West region Saturday.
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