WICHITA, Kan. — Luke Babbitt scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half to help UNR hang on for a 74-70 victory over Wichita State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night.
The sixth-seeded Wolf Pack (21-12) will play at Rhode Island in the second round.
“Wichita State is definitely a physical team, and we did a good job of keeping our cool and playing our game,” Babbitt said.
Toure Murry scored 15 points to lead third-seeded Wichita State (25-10), which suffered its first loss in 18 home games this season.
After the Shockers cut the lead to 42-40 on Gabe Blair’s dunk, UNR found its offensive stride again, highlighted by 6-foot-4-inch Brandon Fields going right at 7-foot center Garrett Stutz and throwing down a dunk. Seconds later, two free throws by Babbitt gave the Wolf Pack a 59-49 lead with 10:33 left.
“Brandon’s dunk was definitely huge,” said UNR’s Armon Johnson, who scored 15 points. “We were already motivated, but when he did that to that big tree, it gave us a boost.”
Wichita State was still down with 6:20 remaining when it scored eight in a row to make it 66-64 with 4:26 left.
It was still a two-point game when Babbitt hit the biggest shot of the night, getting off a 17-footer a fraction of a second before the shot clock expired and sinking it for a 72-68 lead with 33 seconds remaining.
Wichita State’s Clevin Hannah scored on a layup with 24.2 seconds to play, cutting the advantage to 72-70, but Babbitt hit two free throws for the final margin.
■ Rhode Island 76, Northwestern 64 — At Kingston, R.I., Akeem Richmond scored 14 of his 16 points in a 14-0 first-half run as the second-seeded Rams (24-9) took control in a win over the Wildcats (20-14).
■ Illinois 76, Stony Brook 66 — At Stony Brook, N.Y., Demetri McCamey had 16 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds and Mike Davis scored 17 points to lead the top-seeded Fighting Illini (20-14) past the Seawolves (22-10) before a sellout crowd of 4,423 at Stony Brook Arena. Illinois will meet Kent State in the next round.
■ Kent State 75, Tulsa 74 — At Kent, Ohio, Rodriguez Sherman’s driving layup with 20.8 seconds remaining lifted the fourth-seeded Golden Flashes (24-9) to a come-from-behind victory over the Golden Hurricane (23-12).
■ Memphis 73, St. John’s 71 — At Memphis, Tenn., Wesley Witherspoon scored 18 points, including the winning layup as time expired, as the third-seeded Tigers (24-9) defeated the Red Storm (17-16). Memphis advances to play Mississippi.
■ Mississippi 84, Troy 65 — At Oxford, Miss., Terrico White scored 27 points to lead the second-seeded Rebels (22-10) past the Trojans (20-13).
■ Dayton 63, Illinois State 42 — At Dayton, Ohio, Chris Johnson scored 13 points for the third-seeded Flyers (21-12), who used a 19-1 second-half run to pull away from the Redbirds (22-11). Dayton plays at Cincinnati in the second round.
■ Cincinnati 76, Weber State 62 — At Cincinnati, Deonta Vaughn scored 16 points for the second-seeded Bearcats (19-15), who took command with a 17-0 first-half run in beating the Wildcats (20-11).
■ Virginia Tech 81, Quinnipiac 61 — At Blacksburg, Va., Malcolm Delaney scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to lead the top-seeded Hokies (24-8) past the Bobcats (23-10) and into a second-round matchup with Connecticut.