Rapid Recap: Northwestern 68, Vanderbilt 66
March 16, 2017
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SALT LAKE CITY — Northwestern is 1-0 in its NCAA Tournament history.
Bryant McIntosh scored 25 points, including the game-tying and game-winning free throws with 14 seconds remaining, to lift Northwestern to a dramatic 68-66 win over Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
After Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance gave his team the lead in the closing seconds, his teammate Matthew Fisher-Davis mistakenly fouled McIntosh with 15 seconds remaining, and the Wildcats held strong on their final defensive possession to seal the victory.
Junior guard Scottie Lindsey and sophomore center Dererk Pardon each added 14 points as NU survived a furious Vanderbilt comeback attempt to advance to a date with Gonzaga on Saturday.
McIntosh scored NU’s first-ever NCAA Tournament points with a running layup 59 seconds into the game, jumpstarting an electric 14-5 opening run in front of a heavily purple crowd at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Despite some early foul issues, the Cats made seven of their last nine field goals to close the half with a 34-27 lead. A rare pair of McIntosh fouls forced freshman guard Isiah Brown into the game for a time and allowed the Commodores to keep the score close with free throws.
NU continued to add to that lead after the break when senior forward Nathan Taphorn’s 3-pointer nearly brought the house down. The shot extended the Cats’ lead to 15 with under 14 minutes left.
But then the tide changed, with Vanderbilt scoring 12 consecutive points to make it a tight game again.
It stayed that way for the remainder of the afternoon. The two teams traded baskets back and forth throughout a thrilling final two minutes, with LaChance twice giving his team the lead only to have the Cats respond both times.
1. McIntosh carries Northwestern in two-man offense
The Cats’ offense didn’t have a lot of diversity Thursday, but that wasn’t a problem for McIntosh — the junior guard went 10-for-16 from the field, including a number of tough, contested shots, to pace his team. It was his eighth double-digit performance in his last nine outings and helped NU narrowly edge a hot-shooting, ball-spreading Vanderbilt attack.
2. Pardon struggles to overcome double team
Vanderbilt’s defense keyed on stopping Dererk Pardon with not only 7-foot-1 center Luke Kornet but frequently a double team. The sophomore center did not fare well against the added pressure at first, committing a game-high five turnovers, but he appeared to adjust to the new look as the game went on, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the final 15 minutes.
3. NU will face Gonzaga on Saturday
With the win, the Cats secured a second-round date with No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday in the same building. Gonzaga survived a first-half scare from No. 16 seed South Dakota State to win 66-46 on Thursday. Despite its almost-impeccable 33-1 record, the Bulldogs faced only five major conference teams all season — NU will be the sixth.
– McIntosh and Lindsey combined to score 29 of the Cats’ first 40 points
– McIntosh: 25 points, 10-of-16 shooting
– Pardon: 14 points, 11 rebounds
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Bryant McIntosh’s scoring total. He finished with 25 points. The Daily regrets the error.