While the teams battling to get into the Sweet 16 dominated Sunday, there were three mid-majors trying to keep their seasons alive in the NIT. Here’s a rundown of Sunday’s second round NIT action.
(6) Richmond 87, (7) Oakland 83
The Spiders have relied on T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones all season, and it was no different coming down the stretch in a tight game with the Golden Grizzlies.
Oakland turned a five-point half time deficit into a seven-point lead with just under eight minutes left in the game. From there, Cline and Jones dominated in their final game in the Robins Center. Jones (17 points, 3 assists) hit a slew of jumpers in the final few minutes while Cline (25 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) sealed it at the free throw line.
Martez Walker (25 points) converted a four-point play with under 30 seconds left to bring Oakland within one point. But Cline, the A-10 Player of the Year, hit three free throws from that point ice the game.
The Spiders advance to the quarterfinals to play TCU in Forth Worth. The only Big 12 team Richmond played this season was Texas Tech on Dec. 17, where the Spiders took a seven-point loss at home. TCU beat Iowa on Sunday to reach this point.
Richmond advanced as far as the quarterfinals in the 2014-15 NIT before falling to Miami, and missing a chance to play in Madison Square Garden.
Oakland ends the season at 25-9, its most wins since 2010-2011 and first time its had single-digit losses since 2009-10. Greg Kampe will returns Walker and forward Jalen Hayes (18 points, 9 rebounds) next season, who should make the Golden Grizzlies a contender yet again in the Horizon League.
(6) Georgia Tech 71, (7) Belmont 57
The Bruins couldn’t pace with Yellow Jackets, allowing 41-point second half points in a 14-point road loss. A great GT defense held Belmont to just 0.83 points per possession, its lowest mark of the season.
The Bruins, who went 14-for-31 from three in an opening round win at Georgia, hit 11-for-33 long range shots on Sunday. Bruins’ senior star Evan Bradds had 10 points, giving him 1,921 for his career. This is the most for an individual player in Belmont’s Division I history.
With Belmont’s 23-7 record, Rick Byrd won 20 games for the 11th time in the past ten seasons.