Vanderbilt gets win over Elon, 81-70

NASHVILLE-- Ross Neltner scored 18 points while Shan Foster and Dan Cage each added 17 as Vanderbilt defeated Elon 81-70 to pick up their first win in three tries. The Commodores jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead and then withstood an Elon rally after building a 24 point second half lead.

Red-hot shooting got the Commodores off to an early big lead. Dan Cage, who was inserted as a starter in place of the injured Alan Metcalfe, hit two 3-point shots in the first 1 minute, 40 seconds to help Vandy jump out to an early lead. Cage would go on to make 5 of 7 3-pointers, a career high from beyond the arc.

Vandy could do little wrong in the first half. A JeJuan Brown field goal put the Commodore lead into double digits at 19-8 with 13:05 remaining in the first half. Brown finished with a young career high of 10 points.

The Commodores finished up the first half with a 10-3 run over the last 3:49 to take a 41-21 lead going into the locker room.

In the second half Vanderbilt reverted back to the poor defense of its first two games. A little over a minute into the second half Vanderbilt achieved its biggest lead of the game at 45-21 on a Shan Foster free throw.

However, Vanderbilt could not put the Phoenix away as Elon took advantage of a slacking Vandy defense and mounted a gradual comeback.

LeVonn Jordan's 3-pointer with 8:10 remaining cut the Vanderbilt lead to 64-51. From then on the two teams traded baskets as the lead was still 13 with 26 seconds remaining at 81-68. Two Ola Atoyebi free throws provided the final score of 81-70.

Alex Gordon started in place of freshman Jermaine Beal and finished with 9 points. Beal scored the first point of his Vanderbilt career on a free throw. Other scorers for Vanderbilt included Derrick Byars with 8 and Ted Skuchas with 1. Elon's Jordan led all scorers with 26 points.

"We did a great job on him [LeVonn Jordan] in the first half, and Derrick [Byars] did a terrific job in the first half, he just got a little loose on us in the second half. I was really happy for our team. It certainly wasn't a masterpiece. It wasn't 40 minutes of perfection but the first 20 minutes were awfully good. We can build on it" said a relieved Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings.

The Commodores shot 50 percent from the field (29 of 58) compared to Elon's 46 percent (26 of 56). Vanderbilt made 10 of 24 3-point shots and Elon 7 of 22. Elon hit all 11 of their free throws. Vanderbilt made 13 of 17 free throws (76 percent).

Vanderbilt improves to 1-2 with the win. The Commodores next host Furman on Tuesday night. Elon falls to 1-3 and hosts Virginia Commonwealth on Tuesday.

VandyMania's guest expert says:

After leading Elon by 20 points at halftime, the Commodores hung on to defeat Elon 81-70. Alan Metcalfe is out with an injury for about six weeks, but Dan Cage came off the bench to start in his place. He responded by scoring 17 points.

The visitors from North Carolina could not stop Vandy's three point shots. The Commodores had only 14 total treys in the first two games, but hit 10 tonight.

Coach Stallings, with only nine scholarship players, is limited both offensively and defensively. Tonight they played a switching man-to-man most of the game. He may have to play some zone defense later to slow basket penetration, which should reduce the number of fouls.

The perimeter defense was excellent in the first half. Ross Neltner had a good game with 18 points. Foster added 17 points, and Byars had a number of timely rebounds.

This team has a lot of athletic ability and quickness, but a lack of size prevents a lot of scoring in transition. It is real simple. You must get the ball before you can run. This team will improve as the season goes along. You may be disappointed if expecting more than about 15 wins.

Vandy plays Furman this Tuesday.


Photo by Stan Jones.

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