Vandy-lized: No Sweet 16 for WSU 'stings'

VANDERBILT, one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in the tournament, couldn't buy one in the first half Saturday but seemingly couldn't miss one in the second and ended WSU's quest for a spot in the Sweet 16 with a heartstopping, 78-74 double-overtime victory in Sacramento. Cougar head coach Tony Bennett was succinct following the bitter defeat: "I'm hurting right now -- it stings."

The Cougs couldn't find any offensive flow in either overtime period or the last portion of the second half, but clawed and scraped to stay in it. They had a chance to go ahead with 14 seconds left in the second overtime when Taylor Rochestie fired up a long, though arguably perplexing, ball from way downtown.

Vandy rebounded the miss and subsequently added two more points to wrap it all up.

"It was definitely a clean look and he's made a lot of plays for us at the end of halves and games," Bennett said of Rochestie's attempt.

Said Rochestie, whose late-season surge fueled the Cougars' second-place Pac-10 finish, "I had the ball and was trying to make a play. I saw an opening when their player backed off me. I'll be seeing that shot for quite awhile. It was a big game and mentally, maybe, we had it slip away. We had opportunities, but just didn't capitalize."

Rochestie looked like he may be the hero in the waning moments of the first OT when he stole an inbounds pass and drove the length of the court as the clock wound down. He soared for a layup with 3 ticks left on the clock but Byars leapt out of the gym to block it, preserving things at 69 all.

The man who sparked the Cougars' improbable run through this season, all-everything junior Kyle Weaver, had his worst game of the season. He committed turnovers on three successive second-overtime possessions with one travel and two errant passes to put Vanderbilt in the driver's seat. He had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers and just five points for the day.

"Kyle Weaver had to play 48 minutes. We rode him all season and he produced for us. He didn't have one of his best games tonight, but that happens," said Bennett.

The Cougs had built a 10-point lead early in the second half, at 37-27, but Vandy got hot from outside, hitting six straight mostly unchallenged three pointers, and took the lead 52-51 with just less than 10 minutes left.

It was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way, with Cougar Daven Harmeling especially clutch, bringing the Cougs within 1 at 56-55 on a three-pointer at the 7-minute mark of regulation, and then canning two free throws that put the Cougs ahead 58-57 with two free throws at 4:38.

Vanderbilt took the lead 60-59 on a three-pointer by Shan Foster at 1:08 and then the Cougs tied it at 46 seconds when Weaver hit one of two free throws.

With 25 seconds left, Vandy looked to have a sure go-ahead basket underneath but Ivory Clark swooped up to block it. The Cougs played for the last shot of regulation, but Harmeling's baseline three-point attempt missed left.

Derrick Low was the Cougars' leading scorer with 21 points, including two clutch baskets in the first overtime -- one of them a three-pointer that knotted things at 69 and forced the second overtime.

Aron Baynes had 14 and Harmeling 11.

Derrick Byars paced Vandy with 27 points - 15 coming on three-point shots.

Vandy now advances to East Rutherford, N.J., where they'll take on Georgetown, which beat Boston College earlier today.


"We obviously forced things a little too much down the stretch; maybe trying to make too many plays off the dribble. It was a grueling game for both sides. Basketball is a game of mistakes and you have to limit those to be successful; we didn't."

"There are a lot of good things to take from this season. But I'm hurting right now; it stings. I can tell you for sure I won't be looking at the tape of this game tonight. It was a turnaround year, though, and that was our goal at the beginning of the season. After the game in the locker room, I told the kids, as much as this hurts, 'Gentlemen, I'm proud of what we accomplished this season.'"


* Washington State held Vanderbilt without a field goal for 8:25 in the first half, marking the 11th straight opponent and the 14th this season the Cougars have held without a field goal for at least 5 minutes.

* Vanderbilt missed its first six 3-point attempts and finished the game 10-for-27, including 9-for-19 in the second half and overtime.

* Daven Harmeling missed a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 60. Vanderbilt forward Shan Foster missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the first overtime with the game tied at 69.

* Kyle Weaver tallied eight assists and four steals, raising his single-season totals to 157 and 74, respectively. Both marks are second all-time on the WSU singe-season lists.

* Derrick Low handed out three assists and raised his career total to 201, making him the 16th Cougar of all time to record 200 or more assists in a career.

* Ivory Clark finished his career with 84 blocks, including 53 this season. He had two today and eight in the NCAA Tournament. His season total is the fourth best and career mark ranks ninth all-time in Cougar history.

* Vanderbilt made 13 of 16 free throws.

* This was not the first time WSU's Ivory Clark and Vandy's Shan Foster faced each other. The two Louisiana natives played against each other in high school, with Clark pouring in 33 points in a losing effort.

* The Cougs finished the year 26-8, tying the school record for wins in a season set in 1941 when the team was the NCAA runners-up.

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