CINCINNATI — Scotty Pippen Jr.’s 3-pointer at the buzzer fell away no good Tuesday inside the Cintas Center and Vanderbilt fell 75-73 to Xavier in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
Pippen finished with 28 points to go along with a career-high nine rebounds and seven assists. He and the Commodores had one second to get a final shot off after forcing a late turnover, but the game-winning shot wasn’t meant to be.
Vanderbilt finished its season at 19-17.
Xavier (21-13) got 15 points from Colby Jones and moves to face St. Bonaventure (23-9) on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Commodores saw a nine-point lead disappear late and Vandy eventually went down 71-70 on an Adam Kunkel jumper with 2:01 to go. Kunkel then gave the Musketeers a 74-72 lead with a runner with 57 seconds on the clock.
Jones made one free throw with 4.8 seconds to go putting Xavier ahead 75-72. That turned out to be just enough.
The Musketeers ended the game on a 16-7 run and Vanderbilt went the final 3:10 without making a shot from the floor.
Vandy’s defense started strong Tuesday by holding Xavier scoreless for the first 3:17 until Jones hit a single free throw. The Musketeers didn’t hit their first field goal until the 14:40 mark while the Commodores built an 8-1 lead thanks to six points from Pippen.
Xavier went on a 9-2 run to knot the score at 10-all before a Pippen 3-pointer quieted the crowd. Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first lead at 14-13 with 9 1/2 minutes to go in the half.
There would be four lead changes from there before a Freemantle three-point play put the home team ahead 21-17.
Down 23-17, a Pippen three-point play and Wright jumper got the Commodores back within one. Pippen finally gave Vandy the lead back at 31-29 with his third 3 of the night.
Vanderbilt took that lead into the locker room despite getting just 12 points and just six field goals from Commodores not named Pippen. Vandy shot only 37.5 percent and turned the ball over seven times in the first 20 minutes.
Back-to-back buckets from Robbins and Stute, respectively, grew Vanderbilt’s lead to 36-31 to start the second half. Another Stute triple moments later grew the advantage to 41-31 and forced a Xavier timeout.
The Musketeers answered with a 9-0 run to cut the score to 41-40, then put together a 6-0 spurt to tie the score at 46-46 on Cesare Edwards’ triple from the right side. But Vandy wouldn’t relinquish the lead and went up 56-52 on Stute’s third 3 and 61-54 on Stute’s fourth 3 with 8:13 remaining.
Two minutes later Vanderbilt’s lead had grown to nine as the clocked ticked under six minutes to go. It was a lead it couldn’t hold on to for good.
- Tuesday’s game for Vanderbilt was its latest in the month of March since playing March 24 in 2015 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
- Pippen recorded his 35th career game of scoring at least 20 points.
- Pippen Jr. (1,577) is still 12th on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. Jeff Fosnes (1,579) is 11th.
- Pippen Jr. finished with 736 points this season, the most by a Vanderbilt player in a season in program history.
- Pippen has the eighth-most steals in a Vanderbilt career with 144. Jeffery Taylor is seventh with 146.
- Wright has started 41 straight games for Vanderbilt.
- The Commodores are now 1-6 all-time against Xavier.
- Vandy finished 14-5 this season when leading at halftime and 16-9 when shooting at least 40 percent from the field.
- Attendance on Tuesday was announced as 3,240.