Boston University and Vermont, the only two New England teams playing in the 2014 NIT, both lost Wednesday night in the tournament’s first round.
The Terriers led Illinois 30-13 at one point in the first half and led by 12 after 20 minutes, but the Illinois offense exploded in the second half and completed a remarkable comeback to earn a 66-62 victory at Agganis Arena.
BU (24-11) had a four-point advantage with just over two minutes left to play when turnovers, a bad foul and poor defense allowed the Fighting Illini to take a 64-61 edge with 46.9 seconds remaining. After trimming the Illinois lead to two with less than 15 seconds on the clock, senior forward Dom Morris couldn’t convert a contested layup under the basket, and Illinois (20-14) escaped with the victory.
Junior guard Rayvonte Rice led the Fighting Illini with 28 points. They will play Clemson in the second round Sunday.
Vermont also had a chance to win, holding the lead with less than three minutes remaining in the second half of its game against Georgia, but the Catamounts couldn’t stop Georgia guard Charles Mann from dominating offensively in the second half en route to a career-high 29 points. Senior guard Sandro Carissimo led Vermont with 11 points in the final game of his college career as the Catamounts (22-11) lost 63-56.
The Bulldogs (20-13) will play Louisiana Tech in the second round Saturday.
Photo via Twitter/@kvahey