PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Vincent Council, the only senior on the Providence roster, scored eight straight points to key a second-half charge that led the Friars to a 75-66 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday night in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Providence, winning its first postseason game since an NIT win in 2003, will host Robert Morris, which upset defending national champion Kentucky the previous night, either Sunday or Monday. If it is Sunday, the Friars will have to move the game to the University of Rhode Island because of the United Cheer and Dance Nationals at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
The Friars (18-14) erased a seven-point second-half deficit but trailed by two when Council had his personal run. He then got help from fellow guards Bryce Cotton and Kris Dunn to subdue the 49ers (21-12).
Cotton finished with 25 points, while Council had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds, and Dunn added 14 points, nine rebounds six assists and four steals. LaDontae Henton had 13 points and nine rebounds.
E. Victor Nickerson led Charlotte with 14 points. The 49ers lost eight of their last 12 after then-leading scorer DeMario Mayfield was suspended Jan. 30 and dismissed Feb. 22.
Mercer 75, Tennessee 67
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Travis Smith scored 25 points to match his career high Wednesday as Mercer defeated Tennessee.
Mercer, the Atlantic Sun regular-season champion, improved to 2-1 this season against Southeastern Conference foes. Mercer lost 58-49 at Georgia on Dec. 18 and won 66-59 at Alabama on Dec. 22. The Bears (24-11) will play at BYU in the second round.
Daniel Coursey scored 15 points and shot 7-of-7 for Mercer. Langston Hall had 16 points and Jakob Gallon added 12.
Tennessee (20-13) lacked energy all night and trailed throughout the second half in front of only 4,468 fans at the 21,678-seat Thompson-Boling Arena.
Trae Golden scored 20 points and Jarnell Stokes had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Tennessee. Jordan McRae, who was averaging a team-high 16 points per game, shot 3-for-14 and scored just seven points.
Stony Brook 71, Massachusetts 58
AMHERST, Mass. — Anthony Jackson and Dave Coley scored 20 points each and Stony Brook beat Massachusetts.
The seventh-seeded Seawolves (25-7) advanced to the second round of the NIT and will play at Iowa on Friday night.
The second-seeded Minutemen (21-12) led 25-21 with 7:05 left in the first half, but they didn’t score again in the half. But Stony Brook scored the final 17 points heading into halftime and controlled the game the rest of the way.
UMass leading scorer Chaz Williams was slowed by foul trouble in the first half and a shoulder injury fighting through a screen early in the second. He finished with two points and six assists.
Freddie Riley, who scored his 1,000th career point, led the Minutemen with 16 points. Jameel Warney added 16 points for Stony Brook.
Iowa 68, Indiana State 52
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Devyn Marble scored 24 points, Aaron White added 11 with 13 rebounds and Iowa cruised past Indiana State.
Melshan Basabe had nine points and eight boards for the Hawkeyes (22-12), who won a home game in the NIT for the second straight season.
Iowa will host Stony Brook in the second round on Friday night. Iowa shook off a sluggish start with a 19-4 run to open the second half.