Commodores advance with blow out win!

SACRAMENTO-- Vanderbilt dominated the George Washington Colonials from the start to the finish of their opening round NCAA Tournament game. An aggressive defense coupled with an incredible display of first half 3-point shooting led to a lopsided 77-44 Commodore win.

George Washington, heralded by the national media for their outstanding defensive play during the Atlantic 10 Tournament, did not have an answer for Vanderbilt's offense in the first half. The Commodore's first half 3-point shooting barrage stunned a crowd of about 17,000 spectators, most of whom are fans of Washington state, the team from the Pac-10 that Vanderbilt will face in the second round on Saturday afternoon. Washington State earlier defeated Oral Roberts, 70-54, to also advance.

During the first half Vanderbilt made 10-19 from behind the arc including 3 three-point shots by Foster, 2 by Alex Gordon, 2 by Dan Cage and 1 by Derrick Byars. Vanderbilt made 12 of 32 three-pointers for the game. Meanwhile George Washington did not make a 3-pointer during the first half and managed only 3 of 16 treys for the game.

Defensively, Vanderbilt forced 20 Colonial turnovers for the game while surrendering only 11 gifts to the opposition.

Junior Shan Foster got things heated up from 3-point range early on, giving the Commodores a 3-0 lead just 90 seconds into the game. Vanderbilt then built a 13-2 lead after George Drake came in the game and scored 8 straight points, including two 3-pointers, for the Commodores. A thunderous JeJuan Brown dunk followed by a Derrick Byars 3-pointer gave the Commodores a mind boggling 30-9 lead with 5 minutes remaining in the half. A Ross Neltner lay-up just 1:50 before half time gave Vanderbilt its biggest lead of the half at 43-14 and the Commodores cruised to a 45-20 half time lead.

Shan Foster scored 5 consecutive points to open the second half and give Vandy a 50-20 lead with 18:37 remaining in the game. The Commodores then led by 30 or more points throughout most the second half with all Commodores seeing action and all but Aubrey Hammond scoring. Commodore fans roared their approval when with 12 seconds remaining walk-on David Rodriguez scored the first point of his Vanderbilt career when he sank the second of two free throw attempts.

Foster led Vanderbilt in scoring finishing with 18 to lead all scorers. Derrick Byars added 12 and Alex Gordon 10. George Washington did not have a player score in double figures. The Colonials, who shot just 27 percent from the field for the game, were led in scoring by Travis King with 9.

After the game head Coach Kevin Stallings commented on the Vanderbilt's success breaking through the Colonial defense, "The test today was could they turn us over more than we could break them down and get the ball where it needed to be for us. Obviously we were able to do that a little better than they were. I think our players heard a lot this week about how "we have never seen pressure like that" and "we would get shocked" and "there'd be lots and lots of turnovers," said Stallings.

Vanderbilt improved their all time series against the Colonials to 2-0. The 33-point victory was Vanderbilt's largest margin of victory ever in the NCAA Tournament. The twelve 3-point shots made in the game tied the Vanderbilt team record for 3-pointers made in an NCAA game. Vanderbilt previously made 12 three-pointers during a 1993 NCAA Tournament loss to Temple. The 32 three-pointers attempted for the game is a new team record for 3-pointers attempted by Vanderbilt in an NCAA game. Vanderbilt attempted 26 three-pointers during the same 1993 Temple game.

Vanderbilt's Cage was fouled hard early in the first half and came out of the game momentarily but returned to see significant action. The crowd got a good chuckle when with 12:56 remaining Foster passed to a wide-open Ross Neltner who was standing out of bounds by the Commodore bench and not in the game.

Vanderbilt improves to 21-11 and will face Washington State on Saturday. George Washington completes their season 23-9.

Photo by Don Yates Top Stories