CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (Ticker) -- Pete Gillen finally got his first win in a postseason tournament as Virginia coach and it came at the expense of an Ivy League school making its first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament.
Travis Watson scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Virginia to an 89-73 victory over Brown in the first round of the NIT.
The Cavaliers (16-15) became the third Atlantic Coast Conference school to advance, joining North Carolina and Georgia Tech, and will play St. John's in the second round.
After going 0-8 in the ACC, NIT and NCAA tournaments as Cavaliers coach, Gillen was given what appeared to be an easy first-round game against Brown.
"It feels good to get it, but even more importantly it extended our season by at least another game," Gillen said. "We got a few more days of practice for this young team and that is important for the future."
However, the long-awaited win was anything but easy. Virginia never trailed, but held just a 47-46 advantage after Earl Hunt made a jumper for Brown (17-12) with 17:39 left.
Todd Billet then ignited a 10-0 run for Virginia with a 3-pointer and Watson converted a three-point play and capped the spurt with a dunk, giving the Cavaliers a 57-46 lead with 15:49 remaining.
After Brown pulled within 57-51, Devin Smith hit a 3-pointer and a layup to spark an 11-4 run. Watson capped it with a pair of free throws, giving Virginia a 68-55 lead with 10:44 left.
Watson was 11-of-16 from the field and converted all six of his free throws.
Smith finished with 14 points and Billet connected on three 3-pointers for the Cavaliers.
"Todd and Devin made some big perimeter shots for us and Travis fought through a zone all night and played a great game," Gillen said.
Patrick Powers had 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Jason Forte added 14 for Brown, which set a school record with 12 Ivy League wins but finished second to Pennsylvania.
Bears coach Glen Miller knew his team would have trouble matching up against Virginia.
"Against their size, skill and athleticism, we didn't have much margin for error," Miller said. "Against their bigger guys, we just weren't strong enough inside. We got some shots blocked and only got to the line eight times."
That was compared to 25 trips to the line for the Cavaliers, who converted 17 free throws.