The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt loses a heartbreaker, 74-72, to No. 24 Alabama

The Commodores challenged the No. 24 team in the country but came up just short.
Myles+Stute+claps+against+the+Alabama+Crimson+Tide+on+Feb.+22%2C+2022.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
Myles Stute claps against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Feb. 22, 2022. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

On a rainy Tuesday night in Nashville, the Vanderbilt Commodores (14-13, 6-9 SEC) fell to the No. 24 Alabama Crimson Tide (18-10, 8-7) in gut-wrenching fashion, 74-72, at Memorial Gymnasium. The Commodores had an opportunity to tie the game with seconds remaining but a Jordan Wright layup fell off the rim and gave the Tide a victory over Vanderbilt for the second consecutive year.

Both teams were slow offensively to start; at the under-16 minute media timeout, Vanderbilt trailed 5-4, and neither team had completed a field goal aside from 3s from Liam Robbins and Alabama’s JD Davison. The Commodores soon took off, however, going on a 9-0 run and taking a 13-5 lead with just over 13 minutes left in the first half.

For the rest of the half, Vanderbilt never relinquished its lead, shooting 40% from the field and getting 25 combined points from the free throw line and beyond the arc. After 20 minutes of play, the Commodores led the Crimson Tide, 37-32.

Both Robbins and Scotty Pippen Jr. put together dominant first half performances, as Robbins scored two timely 3s and went into the break with nine points, while Pippen Jr. scored 14 points, recorded three assists and caused four turnovers. Davison led the Crimson Tide in the first half with nine points and seven rebounds, and as a team, Alabama shot 34% from the field.

Despite his early success and his team’s five-point lead at halftime, Pippen Jr. did not feel everyone was prepared to play tonight.

“Some people came into the game not ready to play, just not paying attention to details,” he said. “That’s what [head] coach [Jerry] Stackhouse emphasized.”

After each teams traded buckets to start the second half, the Crimson Tide surged, and with 12:53 remaining, Noah Gurley’s and-one gave Alabama the lead, 46-45. After a 13-2 run by Alabama over almost three minutes of play, the Commodores trailed 53-47.

Stackhouse attributed the loss largely to losing the battle on contested balls, which enabled the Crimson Tide to continue its offensive runs.

“The game tonight was won on the 50-50 balls,” he said. “We were all over the place, scheme-wise. We executed but we didn’t come up with the balls. The 50-50 balls and the defensive rebounds is where we lost this game tonight.”

Robbins temporarily stopped the bleeding for Vanderbilt with a strong alley-oop dunk to cut the Tide’s lead to four, but Alabama continued to make shots on offense. Jahvon Quinerly hit a 3 with 7:12 remaining that extended the Tide’s lead to 11, brought the visiting crowd to its feet and forced Stackhouse to call a timeout. Quinerly had 19 points in the win.

Stackhouse commented on Quinerly, who finished 3-of-3 from the three-point line, despite coming into the game shooting at a 24% clip from beyond the arc.

“He is a very capable shooter, hadn’t been shooting it well, but what’s new,” he said. “These guys that haven’t been shooting well find a way to shoot it a little bit better than they normally do against us.”

The Commodores didn’t go away, though, and with just under three minutes remaining, they cut the Tide’s lead to 66-62 after a 3 from Trey Thomas. It was then that Pippen Jr. took over. He went to the free throw line on five straight occasions, including one on a dead ball foul, and made eight of his nine attempts.

With 24.2 seconds remaining, Vanderbilt trailed 73-72. On a controversial dead ball foul call, Pippen Jr. was charged with a block that sent Alabama’s Darius Miles to the free throw line. Miles made one of his two attempts, leaving Vanderbilt down two with a chance to tie the game.

Stackhouse described the planning behind the final play that sent Alabama home with the win.

“We thought we would be down 3,” he said. “It was a play to get Trey [Thomas] a shot in the corner. It was kind of a misdirection. We were pulling Scotty [Pippen Jr.] behind to get to the baseline and had Trey [Thomas] wide open in the corner.”

On the final possession of the night for the Commodores, Wright kept the ball himself and drove for a layup that rolled off the rim, bringing the Vanderbilt faithful to its knees and sealing the 74-72 win for the Tide.

Pippen Jr. and Robbins scored 26 and 16 points, respectively, on the night. Impressed by Tyrin Lawrence’s performance coming off the bench in Saturday’s win against Texas A&M, Stackhouse elected to give the sophomore guard the starting nod for the first time since Vanderbilt’s loss to Loyola Chicago on Dec. 10. He was instrumental in holding the Tide to just 38% shooting from the field.

The Commodores will be back in action on Saturday as they travel to Starkville to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 12 p.m. CST.

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About the Contributor
Andy Carr, Former Assistant Sports Editor
Andy Carr ('22) was a student in the College of Arts and Science who studied economics with minors in business and computer science. In addition to writing, he enjoys running, playing golf and rooting for all D.C. sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
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