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Lawrence’s late free throws sink Pitt

Vanderbilt nearly blew a winnable home game, though.

Pittsburgh v Vanderbilt Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images

It was a back and forth game in Nashville on Wednesday night, and in the end it came down to free throws.

Tyrin Lawrence made them.

The visiting Pitt Panthers opened the game by making seven of their first ten three-pointers, but a turnover-fueled 8-0 Vanderbilt run gave the Commodores a 22-17 lead midway through the first half. Pitt responded with a 10-0 run of its own, but Vanderbilt managed to pull even at 34 going into halftime. That five-point lead at 27-22 would be the Panthers’ largest of the night.

Things continued that way for the first 13 minutes of the second frame, but after Pitt took a 56-55 lead with 7:03 left, the Commodores would get consecutive three-pointers from Emmanuel Ansong, Trey Thomas, and Tyrin Lawrence to pull ahead 64-56 for their largest lead of the night. Another Thomas three with 1:52 left put Vanderbilt up 73-66, and it looked like the game might be over.

Except Pitt would pull off an 8-0 run in a minute and a half, with Nelly Cummings hitting a mid-range jumper with 15 seconds left to put Pitt ahead 74-73. Given one last chance, however, Ezra Manjon drove to the basket and found Lawrence under the hoop, where he was promptly mobbed by multiple Pitt defenders and drew a foul going up.

A 62 percent free throw shooter entering tonight’s game, Lawrence stepped to the line and calmly made both foul shots. Liam Robbins deflected Pitt’s last-second heave, and Vanderbilt escaped with a 75-74 victory.

Robbins tied Myles Stute with 14 points to lead the Commodores; Jordan Wright, returning after missing the Wofford game with back spasms, had 12 points off the bench. Vanderbilt, now 5-4 on the season, hosts Grambling on Friday night.