'Dumb Mistake' Isn't The Reason Vanderbilt Lost To Northwestern

Doyle BarkerMar 18, 2017

Northwestern's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, 68-66 over Vanderbilt, came after Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably grabbed Bryant McIntosh of the Wildcats on objective, sending McIntosh to the free throw line for the go-ahead points with 14.6 seconds left.

A list of alumni who've gone onto create drama on the big or small screen reads like a who's who.

"GET OUT!" (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss on hand to watch her son play). The list goes on and on - just see for yourself. I gave him the ball from the first day he got here. Seriously, to think it would play out like that would have been too Hollywood for Hollywood.

Hitting free throws following a foul 50 feet from the basket may not be the most storybook way to win a basketball game, but being the best player on the floor in your first ever NCAA tournament game is a pretty good substitute.

Jerry Nustra has been waiting since the 1960s for the Northwestern basketball team to make it into the NCAA Tournament. A win for a college that had never even been to the tournament.

Nothing like a baptism by fire. "And there's nothing like March Madness". This was the opening storyline, then came the twist of a late rally by the Commodores.

Trailing by 15 with 13 minutes remaining, Fisher-Davis hit back-to-back 3's to cut the Northwestern lead to only 3 points.

Six lead changes would follow, each with a plot of their own. Lumpkin made one free throw to pad the final score, and Vanderbilt's last hail mary was well wide of the mark. "But in the second half, we have no chance if he doesn't make the shots that he made".

Of course, Fisher-Davis' foul stood out from an otherwise somewhat ordinary slate of games.

Max Schneider, sports reporter: The NCAA tournament is all about being hot at the right time. Up-15 turned into up-one with 2:40 left, at 59-58, and a slender Commodores two-guard named Matthew Fisher-Davis was turning into Steph Curry, draining pull-up threes and stealing the stage back from NU junior point guard Bryant McIntosh, who'd been the game's star to that point. Throw in Minnesota missing a starting guard and this one looks a lot more like one good team beating another one.

"You don't really imagine being down one and getting fouled very often", McIntosh said.

The Bulldogs shot only 39% from the field, going 8-30 from the deep and only 8-18 on free throws, so it was not an impressive performance in all. The differences being that Vanderbilt turns the ball over more, shoots a lesser percentage from two-point range and gets less offensive rebounds.

For the fans in attendance, the season has already been a success and will be regardless of whether Northwestern is able to get a win over a tough Vanderbilt team Thursday.

For numerous student-athletes now on roster, and likely many preceding them, a similar question was asked when they committed to the university: Why would you go to Northwestern? "And hopefully they can stick around for a little bit longer". After the foul, they were still the favorites to win 64.50% of the time.

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