In the final home game of the season, Georgia Tech gave its fans a performance to remember.
Winning loose balls, scoring in transition and tossing in 3-pointers, the Yellow Jackets advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NIT with a 71-57 win over Belmont Sunday at McCamish Pavilion. Tech set a school record with its 17th home win, a collection that includes victories over North Carolina, Florida State, Notre Dame and now NIT opponents Indiana and Belmont.
The Jackets seized the game by starting the second half with a 13-2 run keyed by six points from center Ben Lammers to take a 43-28 lead. Tech tacked on an 11-0 run generated by Belmont turnovers to push the lead to 54-31 with 11:17 remaining that began to secure the game for the Jackets.
Tech will advance to play Mississippi for the right to go to New York and Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals. The game will be played Tuesday at 9 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN2. The Rebels beat Syracuse, the top seed in Tech’s eight-team quadrant, on Saturday.
It’s the second consecutive year that the Jackets have made the NIT quarterfinals. They lost last year in that round to San Diego State. Tech last made the NIT semifinals in 1971, when it lost to North Carolina in the finals.
Tech (19-15) was led by forward Quinton Stephens, playing his final home game as a Jacket. He scored a career-high 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including 3-for-7 from 3-point range, to go with eight rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. He was given a standing ovation when coach Josh Pastner took him out of the game with just under a minute to play.
Guard Josh Okogie was similarly impactful with 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks, two steals and no turnovers.
Highly dependent on the 3-point shot, Belmont (23-7) made 11 of 33 3-point attempts, starting the game 3-for-13.
Attendance was 7,176, a crowd enticed by Pastner’s offer to buy tickets for Tech students and their guests and his purchase of 150 dozen doughnuts.