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 moment: 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 scores: 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.
On hand: Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame, whose son plays for the Wildcats, was in the stands.
Up next: Northwestern will play top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round of the West region Saturday.