Jordan Wright scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the first half to lead Vanderbilt to an 82-71 victory over visiting Belmont in a first-round NIT game on Tuesday between schools located just a few blocks from each other in Nashville.
Wright shot 10 of 15 from the field and added seven rebounds for the fourth-seeded Commodores (18-16), who will face top-seeded Dayton (23-10) or Toledo (26-7) in the round of 16.
Quentin Millora-Brown added eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the Commodores, who rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit and overcame an off night by Scotty Pippen Jr.
Pippen, who entered the night as the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer at 20.2 points per game, was held to 10 points on 2-for-7 shooting, but he added six assists and two rebounds.
Liam Robbins scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds, Rodney Chatman had 10 points and Tyrin Lawrence chipped in nine points for the Commodores.
Will Richard scored 13 of his team-high 22 points in the first half and added eight rebounds for Belmont (25-8). Nick Muszynski had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Ben Sheppard posted 11 points and six assists for the Bruins.
Vanderbilt shot 46.8 percent (29 of 62) from the field, including 25 percent (6 of 24) from 3-point range, in addition to outrebounding the Bruins 42-28.
With the game tied at 65 with 4:07 remaining, Chatman hit a 3-pointer to give Vanderbilt the lead for good on the Commodores’ next possession. After the Bruins pulled to within a point on their next possession, Robbins hit a jumper and Pippen followed with a three-point play to give Vanderbilt a 73-67 lead with 2:44 remaining.
Belmont made nine of its first 13 shots, including going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, to jump out to a 24-12 lead with 11:15 left in the half.
But Vanderbilt closed the half strong. The Commodores ended the half on an 18-6 run, during which Wright scored 10 points, to take a 39-38 lead at halftime.
–Field Level Media