Tyrin Lawrence scored 16 of his career-high 25 points in the second half Tuesday night to help No. 2 seed Vanderbilt hold off visiting Yale 71-62 in a first-round NIT game in Nashville, Tenn.
Vanderbilt (21-14) led wire to wire but survived a push from Yale in which the Bulldogs cut the margin to four points with 7:52 to play. Lawrence scored 13 of the Commodores’ next 15 points, eight at the foul line, to help the SEC team pull away.
Vanderbilt will host No. 3 seed Michigan this weekend in a second-round matchup.
Lawrence added seven rebounds and Ezra Manjon scored 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting (2-of-2 from 3-point land). Vanderbilt went 20-for-27 on free throws compared to Yale’s 7-for-12.
August Mahoney led Ivy League regular-season champion Yale (21-9) with 19 points. EJ Jarvis had eight points and seven rebounds.
Vanderbilt scored the first 11 points and established a 22-9 lead 12 minutes in. Jarvis got going for Yale, making three jumpers as the Bulldogs started going shot for shot with the Commodores.
But Colin Smith and Manjon made 3-pointers 41 seconds apart for Vanderbilt’s largest lead of the night: 17 points. Jack Molloy answered for Yale with 11 seconds left to trim it to 37-23 at the intermission.
The Commodores stretched it to 50-34 on Quentin Millora-Brown’s three-point play with 12:26 left. Then they went cold for the next 5 1/2 minutes, yielding a 12-0 run to let Yale back in the game. Molloy started the stretch with another 3-pointer and Yassine Gharram added two layups.
Lawrence got to the free-throw line to end that drought, but John Poulakidas drew a foul shooting a 3 for Yale and made all three free throws to make it 52-49 with 6:32 to go.
Lawrence answered with a bucket and foul followed by an easy 3-pointer. He later drew a foul on a 3-point shot and went 3-for-3 at the line to restore a nine-point edge.
Vanderbilt held on from there, winning for the 11th time in its past 13 games.
–Field Level Media