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Vandy hoops runs out of gas in Wooden Legacy loss

Vanderbilt showed flashes of what it can be, but ultimately fell short in a 75-65 loss at the hands of Saint Mary’s in the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Ezra Manjon played 30 minutes in Vanderbilt's 75-65 loss to Saint Mary's (Gary A. Vasquez)
Ezra Manjon played 30 minutes in Vanderbilt's 75-65 loss to Saint Mary's (Gary A. Vasquez) (Gary A. Vasquez- USA Today Sports)

Jordan Wright scored 22 points, Tyrin Lawrence and Liam Robbins each added 13 and Myles Stute had 12 for Vanderbilt (2-3), which will face Fresno State in the consolation game on Thursday evening.

The Commodores and Gaels squared off in a back-and-forth battle throughout the first half. The teams were tied at 14, but Vanderbilt was a bit sporadic while St. Mary’s kept a more solid pace throughout the half that allowed it to take a small lead.

Wright kept Vanderbilt in the game with 12 first-half points, while Lawrence chipped in five.

The Commodores had no answer for Mitchell Saxen and Aidan Mahaney, though. The pair combined for 25 of the Gaels 35 first-half points while shooting 67% from the field.

Mahaney capped off the half with a deep buzzer-beating 3 that put the Gaels up 35-27 heading into the break.

Vanderbilt finished the half by shooting just over 28% from the field and 25% from 2-point range. The Commodores 37.5% from 3-point range helped to keep their head above water.

The ‘Dores quickly cut the deficit with a 9-0 run and took a 36-35 lead before a few quick buckets from the Gaels.

After the Commodores took the lead, Saint Mary’s outscored them by a margin of eight before the 5:28 media timeout.

Robbins led the Vanderbilt offense throughout the second half with a few timely post-fadeaways.

The Gaels were steady once-again while the Commodores offense stagnated which led to them extending the lead up to nine.

From there, the ‘Dores stayed in the game but couldn’t dig out of a hole and fell short in a 10 point loss.

Vanderbilt drops another Quad 1 opportunity

For the second time this season, coach Jerry Stackhouse’s team has been within striking distance of a résumé-boosting win but fell short once again.

The Commodores’ schedule certainly won’t be void of opportunities to get impressive wins, but they fell short of another opportunity to make things a bit easier on themselves when they reach conference play.

Vanderbilt’s next opportunity to pick up a Quad 1 win will likely come at Missouri in early January.

Until then, it is imperative that the ‘Dores find a way to close out non-conference play respectably.

Three quick takes

1. Vanderbilt didn't get enough stops to win.

Until there were just a few minutes remaining, Vanderbilt was right there, again…

There were a few lead changes throughout the night. Neither team's lead got above 10 for most of evening, and the Commodores always felt like they were one run away, until they weren’t.

Vanderbilt fought to cut the Saint Mary’s lead in the final minutes, but couldn’t defend well enough down the stretch to put themselves back in striking distance.

Saint Mary’s scored 40 second-half points and shot 58.3% from the field in the 20-minute period.

That was the theme throughout the night for Vanderbilt the rest of the night as well, it didn’t have enough answers for the Gaels' unique offense to win.

First it was a quick 10 points from Saxen, then it was an efficient complement from Mahaney, then it was a steady second half attack. All in all, Saint Mary’s showed its identity offensively and proved to the Commodores how frustrating defending them can be.

Vanderbilt fought, but just couldn’t get enough stops down the stretch and turned it over too much in crucial situations to give themselves a chance to win.

Although Vanderbilt lost, there were plenty of positives.

Vanderbilt couldn’t pick up its first Quad 1 win of the season, but the Commodores didn’t entirely fail their test against a steady Sint. Mary’s team.

The ‘Dores didn’t have their best offensive output of the season, or one enough that was good enough to win tonight. But Stackhouse’s team was able to consistently get good looks throughout the night against the team with the sixth-highest defensive efficiency in the country.

On the other end, Vanderbilt couldn’t get many stops down the stretch, but it did get Saint Mary’s out of character throughout the night.

The Gaels, who are known for their ability to take care of the ball, were forced into 13 turnovers tonight.

Bennett’s team also shot a season low 27.3% from 3-point range.

2. Flashes of excellence also came from Vanderbilt’s group of important veterans.

Wright carried the Commodores offense during their 2nd half comeback attempt.

Robbins continued to show positive signs in a performance in which he shot 6-for-7 from the field.

Stute was efficient from beyond the arc and converted nearly every time there was a look from beyond the arc drawn up for him.

Lawrence had a strong second half with eight points.

Vanderbilt didn’t do quite enough to win tonight, but it also did enough to leave with some positive takeaways that they can move forward with.

3. It was good for Vanderbilt to see a team like this

Saint. Mary’s certainly is not the best team that Vanderbilt will see this season, but it may be the most unique.

Coach Randy Bennett’s team has a different approach than most of the teams that Vanderbilt will see in conference play. The Gaels don’t turn it over often, slow the tempo down, like playing through their big man, and don’t foul often.

Vanderbilt’s defense wants to emphasize forcing turnovers and leading opponents into their shot blockers, while the Gaels generally don’t go into the lane out of control. Saint Mary’s offense is a frustrating one to defend and one that doesn’t play into Vanderbilt’s hands.

Vanderbilt has seen plenty of styles and systems throughout their early non-conference slate, Saint Mary’s is different from most of them and can help Vanderbilt to get a different look than they normally do.

That different offensive look caused Vanderbilt to do some things differently as well, Stackhouse decided to drop into a zone a few times throughout the night and switch up his pick and roll coverages at times.

Sometimes it’s good to be uncomfortable in non-conference play. Although Stackhouse’s team didn’t come out of this game with the résumé boost that they had hoped for, they did leave with plenty of experience that will help them throughout the year.


Paul Lewis (non-Covid illness) and Trey Thomas (knee) were both unavailable for Vanderbilt tonight.

Stackhouse went with his regular starting lineup of Manjon, Lawrence, Wright, Stute, and Quentin Millora-Brown.

Robbins was Vanderbilt’s first player to come off the bench, Colin Smith was the second.

Stute scored Vanderbilt’s first basket with a layup.

Vanderbilt forced Saint Mary’s into its second-most turnovers of the season and their lowest 3-point percentage.

The ‘Dores had four players in double figures.

Vanderbilt played nine players tonight, four of them went scoreless.

Stute, Wright, Manjon, and Lawrence all played 30 minutes or more.

Although Vanderbilt knocked on the door all night, it only held the lead for a few seconds.

Vanderbilt’s game against Fresno State will be on ESPNU Thursday at 9:00 p.m. central.