No. 8 Northwestern won the first NCAA tournament game in the history of the program thanks to some clutch shooting and a bone-headed foul committed by No. 9 Vanderbilt.
The Wildcats and the Commodores traded baskets for the final two minutes of this game, with the lead changing hands seven times in that stretch. After Vandy’s Riley LaChance scored a tough runner with just under 20 seconds left in the game to give the ‘Dores a 66-65 lead, teammate Matthew Fisher-Davis lost his mind and committed an intentional foul in the back court:
Bryant McIntosh would hit both free throws and LaChance missed a go-ahead three with five seconds left, as the Wildcats would go on to win, 68-66.
Fisher-Davis said he thought Vandy was down 1. When Commodores coach Bryce Drew pointed for him to pick up McIntosh, Fisher-Davis thought he was saying to foul him.
“It was a collective effort in coming back, and it was my dumb mistake why we lost,” Fisher-Davis said after the game.
This is just such a brutal was for a team to lose a game, and I cannot imagine being in Fisher-Davis’ shoes right now. This was the only tournament game being played at the time — the late tips didn’t start for another 10 minutes and the only other afternoon tip had ended 10 minutes before the foul — meaning that everyone saw this happen. He’s not going to live that down, and the cruel irony is that if it wasn’t for his 22-point performance, Vandy would never have been in a position for him to make this mistake.
Northwestern’s win is March at its absolute best.
But what Fisher-Davis is going to go through is the other side of it, a heartbreaking loss and a career-defining mistake that will never leave him.
McIntosh finished with 25 points for Northwestern, making big shot after big shot down the stretch. The Wildcats were up by 15 points midway through the second half, but Vanderbilt made a run.
Northwestern advances to take on No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday in the second round.