Vanderbilt welcomed 5,600 fans to an NIT game in the midst of March Madness. Matthew Fisher-Davis made sure they went home entertained.
The freshman's huge three-pointers propelled Vandy to a win over South Dakota State in the second round of the NIT, 92-77. The Commodores were locked in a dogfight before Fisher-Davis made four straight shots to push the 'Dores to a double-digit lead and a spot in the NIT's final eight. Wade Baldwin IV also came up big down the stretch, icing key free throws to make sure Vandy didn't close out Memorial Gym with a come-from-ahead loss.
The two teams battled throughout an evenly-matched first half before Luke Kornet's three-pointer shot the 'Dores to a 33-27 halftime lead. South Dakota State responded with a 9-0 run that quieted the home crowd and gave the Jackrabbits a three-point advantage early in the second frame. They held that lead until the 'Dores caught fire and failed to miss a shot over a five minute span. A Fisher-Davis miss left the two teams tied at 59, but it also energized the home team. A pair of Damian Jones free throws and back-to-back threes from Wade Baldwin IV and Fisher-Davis gave the 'Dores a 67-59 lead at the under-eight media timeout.
South Dakota State tried to regroup with the timeout, but Fisher-Davis wouldn't let them. Three more three-pointers - with a James Siakam jumper in between - pushed the Vandy lead to 15 points and assured the Jackrabbits of a disappointing trip back to the badlands. State resorted to desperation fouls early, but the 'Dores were solid enough from the line to secure a game against either Stanford or Rhode Island in the NIT's final eight.
Wade Baldwin IV led the 'Dores with a career-high 20 points, but five different Commodores scored 12 points or more. South Dakota State's Cody Larson led the Jackrabbits with 18.