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 guts out 71-62 win against Yale in first round of NIT

The Commodores jumped out to an early 11-0 lead and never looked back, defeating the Bulldogs in front of the Memorial Gymnasium home crowd
Vanderbilt Athletics
Tyrin Lawrence goes to work en route to a career-high 25 point performance in Vanderbilt’s win over Yale on March 14, 2023 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

The Vanderbilt Commodores (21-14, 11-7) took down the Yale Bulldogs (21-9, 10-4) by a score of 71-62 in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday night. Head coach Jerry Stackhouse and Co. used an early lead to propel themselves to victory, leading Yale for all 40 minutes of the game. 

After falling on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament Bubble, the Commodores were clearly determined to prove to the committee — and perhaps the whole country — that they deserved a bid. 

Quentin Millora-Brown won the opening tip and Vanderbilt went right to work as Ezra Manjon connected on a layup after zooming by his defender. After a defensive stop, Jordan Wright snagged two offensive rebounds before muscling through contact and finishing a layup. Another stop saw Tyrin Lawrence confidently step into a triple and extend Vanderbilt’s lead to seven. Lawrence and Wright each connected on layups to cap off an 11-0 Vanderbilt run and force Yale to take a timeout. 

Yale’s August Mahoney got to the charity stripe and connected on both to get the Bulldogs on the board, ending the Commodores run. Colin Smith went to work on the other end, connecting on a contested fadeaway jumper to bring the lead back to double digits. After a defensive miscommunication, Mahoney found space in the right corner and drilled a deep ball to make the score 13-5. Manjon then connected on a nifty pullup jumper. 

Both teams traded missed baskets before Isaiah Kelly put Lee Dort in a spin cycle and Mahoney hit a short pullup jumper. The scoreboard showed 15-9 with just over ten minutes remaining in the first half.

The Commodores then ripped off a 7-0 run highlighted by a deep stepback two-point jumper from Paul Lewis and a transition slam from Tyrin Lawrence. John Poulakidas responded with a deep ball for Yale before Trey Thomas answered back with a 3-pointer of his own to give the Commodores a 13-point lead. EJ Jarvis hit a pair of jumpers to cut into the Vanderbilt lead before halftime, but Smith and Manjon hit back-to-back triples to increase Vanderbilt’s lead to 17 points, 37-20. Mahoney hit a 3-pointer of his own before halftime as the teams entered their respective locker rooms with the Commodores leading 37-23.

The first half was highlighted by more stellar guard play from the Commodores as Manjon and Lawrence led the team with 9 points each. On the other bench, Mahoney had 9 of his own for the visiting Bulldogs. 

Mahoney opened things up in the second half with a triple before Millora-Brown cleaned up on the offensive glass and got fouled on his way back up. After the senior forward missed both free throws, Matt Knowling extended the Bulldogs run to 8-0 with a nice mid-range jumper. Lawrence quickly ended the Commodores’ scoreless streak with a triple from the corner off a pretty pass from Wright. 

Wright continued to dish, finding Millora-Brown in the pick and roll to increase the lead to 14 points. Mahoney responded with yet another jumper as Yale trailed 42-30. Manjon used his patented quickness to get into the lane and draw a foul, knocking down both free throws. 

Lawrence then went to work in the paint, spinning his way through the defense before finding Manjon for his second 3-pointer of the game. After Jack Molloy hit a jumper on one end, Millora-Brown responded with a tough finish through contact, plus the foul. He connected from the charity stripe to finish the traditional 3-point play. Molloy answered back with a deep 3-pointer to cut the lead back down to 13, and Bez Mbeng hit a layup as the scoreboard showed 50-39. 

Both sides traded misses before a Lawrence turnover brought the game to a media timeout. Yale connected on another layup as it continued to push the pace offensively. Both teams dealt with offensive lulls as the scoreboard was seemingly stuck at 50-41 before Danny Wolf drilled a 3-pointer and Smith missed on the other end. A defensive miscue saw Yassine Gharram get wide open for a layup as Yale extended its run to 12-0 and cut the Commodores lead down to four. 

Vanderbilt — in the midst of a 4-minute scoring drought — was forced to take a timeout, sending the game to a commercial break. Wright made a brilliant move to get open at the rim but left the attempt short as Yale snatched a rebound. Jarvis forced up an off-balance jumper that missed, and Lawrence drew contact and hit both shots from the charity stripe to end the drought and settle the team’s nerves. 

A seemingly questionable foul call on a 3-point attempt sent Poulakidas to the line for three attempts. After going perfect from the stripe, the Bulldogs trailed by just three points before Lawrence drove through contact for an and-1 finish and bring the lead back to six points. After a miss from deep by Yale, Lawrence snagged a rebound, stepped back and drilled a 3-pointer. An unfortunate turn of events saw Millora-Brown poke Wright in the face on a rebound attempt as Mbeng drove through contact and connected on an and-1 of his own. 

Manjon went to work on the other end, cashing in on an off-balance floater to bring the lead back to nine points as Vanderbilt led 60-51. Chants of defense reigned down from the crowd as Matt Knowling grabbed an offensive rebound and Mahoney drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key. With just under 3 minutes remaining, the Bulldogs were still hanging around, trailing 60-54.

Manjon missed a jumper in the lane, but Millora-Brown snagged an offensive rebound and Lawrence was fouled on his 3-point shot attempt, hitting all three free throws to claim a new career high (23 points). On the next possession, Deja Vu ensued as Lawrence was fouled again, this time connecting on two of three attempts from the line. 

With just over one minute remaining, Vanderbilt led by nine, 65-56. Manjon and Millora-Brown went to work on offense in an effort to put the game away, running the pick-and-roll before Millora-Brown was fouled. After the big man missed both free throws, Yale rushed down and connected on a quick layup to cut the lead down to seven. Wright hit a pair of free throws after getting fouled to keep the Bulldogs at bay. 

In the end, the dynamic duo of Lawrence (25 points, 7 rebounds) and Manjon (18 points, 6-7 FG) were too much for Mahoney (17 points) and the Bulldogs, as the Commodores won 71-62.

Vanderbilt will take on the Michigan Wolverines (18-15, 11-9) in Memorial Gymnasium on either Saturday or Sunday, with tip-off time TBD.

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About the Contributor
Aiden Rutman, Senior Staff Writer
Aiden Rutman (‘25) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in communication studies. He formerly produced The Hustler’s sports podcast, Live from West End. In addition to writing and podcasting, Aiden is an avid New York sports fan, and he loves playing sports, spending time outdoors and trying new foods. You can reach him at [email protected].
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