Jordan Walker scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half to lift fourth-seeded UAB to a 67-59 victory over second-seeded Vanderbilt on Wednesday in an NIT quarterfinal game at Nashville, Tenn.
Walker overcame a dismal 1-for-10 performance from the floor in the first half to make 6 of 12 shots in the second. He also had seven rebounds and seven assists for the Blazers (28-9), who have won three in a row and 15 of their last 17 games to eclipse last season’s program record in victories.
UAB’s Trey Jemison collected 17 points and 12 rebounds and Eric Gaines added 14 and seven, respectively. The Blazers overcame a 2-for-15 performance from 3-point range to advance to the semifinals to face the winner of Wednesday’s late game pitting Cincinnati against Utah Valley.
Vanderbilt’s Jordan Wright recorded 15 points and eight rebounds and Ezra Manjon added 15 points. Tyrin Lawrence was limited to just eight points for the Commodores (22-15), who lost for just the third time in their last 15 games.
The Blazers recorded a game-high seven-point lead at 59-52 before Manjon made a jumper and Wright sank a 3-pointer to trim the deficit. Jemison answered at the other end by converting a dunk to give UAB a 61-57 lead with 45 seconds left in the second half.
The Blazers forced a change of possession following a held ball, and Walker sank a pair of free throws at the other end. UAB’s Gaines stole the ball from Wright and Gaines drained two free throws to seal the win.
The Blazers were nursing a 49-48 lead before Walker made a pair of layups and two free throws to push their advantage with 55-52 with 5:19 to play. Jemison and Gaines each converted a layup to extend UAB’s advantage to a game-high seven points at 59-52.
UAB jumped out to an 11-5 lead before Vanderbilt countered with a 22-11 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Lawrence, Paul Lewis and Trey Thomas. Gaines drained a pair of free throws, however, to bring the Blazers within three points at halftime, 27-24.
–Field Level Media