Jence Rhoads scored Vanderbilt’s final five points of overtime, the last three with 2:25 to play, and the Commodores avoided an upset in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament with a 65-64 victory over Arkansas at Duluth, Ga.
Rhoads broke a 62-62 tie when she was fouled on a layup and made the ensuing free throw. Vanderbilt, the tournament’s No. 5 seed, was 0-for-3 from the field the rest of the way but allowed just two foul shots to Arkansas, which finished the regular season last in the conference standings.
Rhoads missed a potential game-winning jumper at the end of regulation. The teams then traded 3-pointers in the first minute of overtime as VU’s Merideth Marsh answered one by Arkansas’ Dominque Robinson.
The Commodores (21-9) trailed by five with 4:54 to play in regulation before Marsh started an 8-0 run with the second of her three 3-pointers.
Arkansas (12-18) then trailed by four, 57-53, after Rhoads’ layup with 55 seconds to play in regulation but forced overtime when Ceira Ricketts and Lyndsay Harris each scored in the final 36 seconds.
Rhoads and Marsh each played all 45 minutes for Vanderbilt. Rhoads finished with a team-high 21 points, and Marsh added 19. Together, they accounted for 15 of their team’s 24 field goals.
Charity Ford had a team-high 21 points for Arkansas. Robinson added 16.
Vanderbilt will face LSU in a quarterfinal matchup, 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Atlantic Sun Conference — Men
Mercer 87, Belmont 81
Ian Clark scored a team-high 19 points but Belmont failed to hold a 13-point second-half lead and was eliminated with an 87-81 quarterfinal loss to Mercer.
With the defeat, Belmont (19-12) became the third of the four teams that finished tied for first place in the regular season to lose in the first round of the conference tournament. Campbell also lost Thursday, and Lipscomb was eliminated a day earlier.
A layup and foul shot by Clark, the A-Sun Freshman of the Year, gave the Bruins a 56-43 lead 3:20 into the second half.
Mercer (15-16) finally took control with a 16-2 run that lasted seven minutes and ended with 1:26 to play when two Kerron Johnson free throws cut an eight-point Belmont deficit to six, 78-72.
Jon House got the Bruins within one, 82-81, on a layup with 28 seconds to play, but Belmont committed turnovers on its next two possessions Mercer made five of six free throws to close out the contest.
Drew Hanlen added 16 points and five assists for the Bruins, and Scott Saunders scored 11.
Mercer got a game-high 24 points from James Florence, who started the winning surge with a 3-point shot and ended it with a steal and layup.
Belmont 70, Kennesaw State 65 (OT)
Haley Nelson had 16 points and 20 rebounds as Belmont defeated Kennesaw State 70-65 in overtime in a conference tournament quarterfinal contest.
It was her eighth double-double of the season. She also had a game-high three blocked shots.
Amber Rockwell scored five of the Lady Bruins’ seven points in the five-minute overtime. Her 3-pointer with one minute remaining made it 67-65 and put her team in front to stay. She extended the lead to four points with a pair of free throws 34 seconds later.
Rockwell, who finished with a game-high 20 points, also gave Belmont (15-14) a 63-61 lead when she made two free throws with 33 seconds to go in regulation. Kennesaw State (11-19) forced overtime on Gia Lockett’s jumper with 18 seconds to go.
Angie Smith led Kennesaw State with 13 points.
TranSouth Athletic Conference — Men
Cumberland 90, Trevecca Nazarene 83
Senior Matthew Elliott scored a career-high 31 points, but Trevecca Nazarene’s season ended with a 90-83 quarterfinal loss to Cumberland.
Elliott made nine of 17 shots, including five of 10 3-pointers. He had 20 points in the first half, which ended with the Trojans (21-10) in front by three, 44-41.
Cumberland (12-16) opened the second half with a 17-2 run and led the rest of the way. The closest Trevecca got was when an Elliott 3-pointer made it 72-69 with 5:30 to go.
Brandon Springer, the conference player of the year, scored a game-high 29 points — including eight in the run to open the second half — for Cumberland. Walter Simon and Andrew Ayodeji each added 16.
Keith Morris added 19 points, and Michael France chipped in 10 for Trevecca.