Vanderbilt wins 14th straight

NASHVILLE-- Vanderbilt improved to 14-0 on Thursday night with a 76-58 win over the Rice Owls at Memorial Gym. Shan Foster led the Commodores with 24 points. A.J. Ogilvy added 14 points and Alex Gordon had 11.

The Commodores, who have struggled on defense so far this season, forced a season high 24 turnovers. They held the Owls to 38% shooting from the field for the game, and they did not allow a three point field goal until there was just 29 seconds left in the game. Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings had this to say about his team's defensive effort after the game: "Rice is a very physical team. Their big guys are really physical and strong. Andrew (Ogilvy) and Ross (Neltner) went in and led us in the second half. Rice was pretty methodical offensively, so their possessions were longer. Thus, we didn't score as many points as we normally do. We just have to get in there and gut it out." Gordon had this to say about the Commodores' defensive effort: "The last couple of practices the main focus has been on tweaking our defense and it showed up tonight. Coach has been telling us that we need to get better. We just executed what we have been practicing."

Offensively the Commodores ran very hot and cold throughout this game. They opened the game on a 13-4 run but went ice cold after that going almost five minutes without hitting a field goal. Luckily the Commodores kept up their defensive intensity during that dry spell only allowing the Owls to score 4 points.

The Owls cut the Vanderbilt lead to 22-16 with 6:58 remaining in the first half on a Bryan Beasley two point field goal. Vandy responded by going on a 9-4 run that ended on an emphatic dunk by Foster that forced the Owls to call a timeout.

Rice responded after the timeout by going on 6-0 run to close out the first half. The Commodores only led by five at the half.

Vanderbilt, which if off to its best start ever, came out of the break on a 13-2 run to build a 44-28 lead. "We got off to a good start in the second half. I thought our starters in both halves got us off to good starts," Stallings said. This put the Commodores comfortably ahead for good. Rice coach Willis Wilson said the Commodores' hot start to the second half was what did his team in: "That was the undoing of us. We got behind in the first half and made a nice effort to work ourselves back into the game. We let some situations slip past us in the first half that could have tied the score or even gave us the lead. Their performance combined with our performance really took a lot out of us."

The Owls were led in scoring by Paulius Packevicius with 17. Lawrence Ghoram added 15 in the losing effort.

The Commodores will face their toughest test of the young season when the University of Massachusetts comes to Memorial Gym on Saturday. That game tips off at 3 p.m. Top Stories