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 suffers nightmare loss to Presbyterian, 68-62, in season opener

The Commodores were unable to keep up in the second half with the Blue Hose on Tuesday night.
Josh Rehders
JQ Roberts fights for a layup during Vanderbilt’s game vs Presbyterian, as photographed on Nov. 7, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

After a long offseason, Vanderbilt returned to the court with a disappointing defeat to the Presbyterian Blue Hose, losing 68-62. In the absence of Tyrin Lawrence, Vanderbilt failed to find production anywhere on offense, shooting just 33% from the field while making 8-of-33 (24%) shots from behind the arc. After Vanderbilt barely missed the NCAA Tournament last season, Tuesday night’s loss represented a sobering result to begin the Commodores’ 2023-24 campaign, which was once filled with hope.

“We had some opportunities to get separation, but that team just kept hanging around,” head coach Jerry Stackhouse said after the game. “Once they got some separation, that really made it an uphill battle for us.”

After sticking around for the entire game, Presbyterian began to pull away towards the midpoint of the second half. Once Vanderbilt tied the game with just over 12 minutes remaining, 11 unanswered points — including three made 3s — from Presbyterian guard Crosby James stretched Presbyterian’s lead to 49-38. In a night marred by offensive failure, 11 points ended up being too much for the Commodores to overcome. 

 Vanderbilt’s shooters had a night to forget in what was simply a disastrous night in Memorial. Despite a plethora of open looks, forwards Colin Smith and Evan Taylor combined to shoot just 4-of-20 from the field and 3-of-16 from behind the arc. The shooting plague infected Vanderbilt’s entire roster, as Ezra Manjon (19 points, 2 rebounds) was the only Vanderbilt player to record more than 10 points.

It was an ugly first half for the Commodores, who failed to find any offensive rhythm and shot just 10-of-29 (34.5%) from the field. In addition to missing Lawrence, Manjon played just four minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls within the game’s first four minutes. In the absence of their two best playmakers from a season ago, the Commodores offense suffered, limping to a 28-24 lead as the game reached its halfway point. 

Despite the Commodores’ overall offensive issues, graduate transfer Tasos Kamateros was a bright spot, as he canned two triples en route to eight points in his first half donning the Black and Gold. Aside from his success shooting, Kamateros held his own defensively, helping protect the paint and limit the Blue Hose to just 40% shooting from the field in the half. 

In a similar move to last season’s opener, Stackhouse worked the Commodores’ freshman into the rotation into the game’s opening minutes. Jason Rivera-Torres, Malik Pressley, JQ Roberts and Carter Lang all featured together in the first ten minutes of the game, where the group, along with Paul Lewis, went on a 7-0 run to put the Commodores up 15-5 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half. This would mark their largest lead of the game, as things went downhill from there.

Stackhouse continued to give the freshman minutes as the first half ticked on, with Isaiah West subbing in to give the Commodores an all-freshman lineup as the clock ticked below 10 minutes in the first half. The group was led by Rivera-Torres, who recorded four points along with a block and a steal during his early stint on the court. Despite cycling through 11 different players in the first half, Stackhouse seemingly could not find the right combination as the Commodores’ playmaking suffered.

Four points and two steals marked a strong return to the lineup for Manjon, who brought a jolt of energy to the Commodores as the second half began. Despite the quick start, Presbyterian remained calm, cool and collected as it responded, never letting Vanderbilt’s lead extend past four as the second half reached its first break with fifteen minutes remaining. 

Bad soon turned into worse for the Commodores. After forcing turnovers on consecutive possessions, Presbyterian took its first lead of the game as the clock ticked past thirteen minutes remaining in the second half. Despite continued tenacity on the defensive end, the Commodores could not find a way to slow down Presbyterian’s lengthy and athletic offense. 

Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, the second half hole that if fell into ended up being too much to overcome. With Vanderbilt still facing a double-digit lead as the clock ticked under eight minutes remaining, Stackhouse elected for an up-tempo approach, as the Commodores looked to run in transition and force Presbyterian into mistakes with a full-court press. Despite some success, Vanderbilt remained inefficient from 3-point range as it struggled to consistently knock down the shots it needed to get back into the game.

As Presbyterian continued to heat up, Vanderbilt failed to keep up with the pace offensively, falling behind by as much as 15 at one point. Taylor finally began to convert later down the stretch for the Commodores, making two triples as the clock ticked under two minutes remaining, but it was ultimately too little, too late for Vanderbilt. After two made threes from Manjon and a few missed free throws by Presbyterian, the Commodores were able to cut the lead to 68-62, but could not get over the hump in the end. 

“I don’t think you make or miss the tournament on opening night,” Stackhouse said. “We could have garnered some excitement moving forward, but it didn’t happen, and now we’ll adjust for it.”

Vanderbilt will look to get its first win of the season as it takes on USC Upstate on Nov. 10.

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About the Contributors
Anish Mago
Anish Mago, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
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