The jubilation of victory and agony of defeat were on full display in the final moments of Northwestern and Vanderbilt’s first-round NCAA matchup Thursday evening.
Making their first-ever tourney appearance, the No. 8-seeded Wildcats earned a 68-66 win over the No. 9-seeded Commodores before a raucous crowd in Salt Lake City. The win, however, was handed to them by one of the most bone-headed plays in Big Dance history.
Vanderbilt took a one-point lead with 17 seconds remaining after point guard Riley LaChance banked home a layup. But after the ensuing inbounds pass, Vanderbilt leading scorer Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably fouled Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh, sending the 86-percent foul shooter to the line. McIntosh sunk both shots to give the Wildcats the lead for good.
Matthew Fisher-Davis (5) walks off the court after Vanderbilt’s loss to Northwestern.
Fisher-Davis immediately looked up to the scoreboard after fouling McIntosh and realized his mistake. It’s hard to not feel for the 20-year-old, who has one year of eligibility remaining. The play will certainly live in infamy with the likes of Chris Webber’s timeout in the 1993 title game.
“I actually thought we were down one,” Fisher-Davis said after the game. “Coach … pointed at (McIntosh), but he was just teling me that was my matchup. I took it as (I should) foul.”
The Commodores still had an opportunity to win Thursday’s contest, or at least take the lead, on the next possession. But LaChance fired up a long pull-up three with six seconds remaining that clanged off the back rim, eventually bouncing out of play off a Vanderbilt player.
Northwestern faces Gonzaga in the second round Saturday.