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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 edges out Central Arkansas, 75-71, to win third straight

An offensive team effort and defensive tenacity proved to be the difference in Vanderbilt’s win.
Vince Lin
Vanderbilt won its third straight against Central Arkansas. (Hustler Multimedia/Vince Lin)

On the eve of Thanksgiving break, Vanderbilt won its third straight game against Central Arkansas, taking down the Bears 75-71. The Commodores jumped off to an early lead thanks to Colin Smith (14 points, 11 rebounds), who scored 11 points in the game’s opening eight minutes, and never allowed the Bears to climb back. In the continued absence of backcourt partner Tyrin Lawrence, Ezra Manjon led the Commodores with a complete performance (16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) while fighting off a second-half injury.

As they did all night, Vanderbilt found a way to protect their lead in the game’s final minute. Leading by two with 44.7 seconds remaining, a defensive stop from Manjon and four consecutive made free throws from the guard proved to be the difference between the two sides. Despite the Bears keeping the score within one possession up until the game’s closing minutes, Vanderbilt led for all but 42 seconds of Friday night’s matchup.

“We got the win, and that’s ultimately what matters. We’re seeing areas that we need to improve on, but also some good sights in terms of hopefully getting guys back healthy soon,” head coach Jerry Stackhouse said after the game.

It was a mixed cast of players who led the Commodores on Friday night, with four players scoring in double digits. Season highs in points from Evan Taylor (14) and Isaiah West (12) ultimately helped lift the Commodores in what turned into an up-and-down offensive night. 

Though the Commodores shot poorly, converting on just 9-of-30 shots from behind the arc, they played with a tenacity that outmatched the Bears. Defensive intensity and strong rotations led to 14 forced turnovers for the Commodores, who were able to score in transition easily. 29 combined points from turnovers and second-chance opportunities proved to be the difference between the sides in a close matchup. 

Stackhouse elected to retain the same starting five from Vanderbilt’s win over UNC-Greensboro, featuring Manjon, West, Taylor, Smith and Carter Lang. The group rewarded their coach’s faith with a strong opening five minutes, jumping out to an early eleven-point lead after two quick baskets from Smith. The forward converted on another three-pointer and transition layup coming out of the timeout to push Vanderbilt’s lead to 24-11 as the first half neared its midway point. 

Central Arkansas came out of the under-eight break refocused, quickly shaving ten points off the Commodores’ lead after consecutive poor offensive possessions from Vanderbilt. The re-introduction of Manjon helped stabilize Vanderbilt’s offense as the first half winded down, but two made threes from the Bears cut Vanderbilt’s lead to eight, 41-33, heading into halftime.

Quick layups from Manjon and West started off the second period strongly for the Commodores, who were easily able to break through the Bear’s full-court press. The Bears continued to stick around, however, converting threes on two consecutive possessions before a highlight-reel move and dunk from West lifted Memorial. 

Panic ensued soon after for the Commodores, as Manjon stole the ball but came down with an injury on the following fastbreak. Vanderbilt struggled to find rhythm following the abrupt departure of Manjon, with the Bears cutting its lead to two points as the second half ticked near twelve minutes remaining. 

Manjon returned to the court with just over nine minutes remaining with the Commodores leading by three, 57-54. A quick floater and assist to Lewis seemed to reassure the Commodore faithful of Manjon’s status, with Vanderbilt’s lead quickly extending back to eight.

The Bears continued to stick around however, cutting Vanderbilt’s lead back to two with two minutes remaining. Both teams traded misses down the stretch, eventually leading to a timeout with 44.7 seconds remaining and a narrow 70-68 lead for the Commodores. Manjon’s defense and made free throws proved to be the difference in a narrow win for Vanderbilt.

The Commodores will look to make it four straight wins when they take on N.C. State in the Vegas Showdown, beginning Nov. 23.

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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 .
Vince Lin
Vince Lin, Deputy Videography Editor
Vince Lin (‘27) is from Zanesville, Ohio, and is majoring in computer science. Vince also serves as a graphics and photography staffer. Outside of school, you can find him at the gym, rowing, lifting weights, playing games with friends or sleeping. You can reach him at [email protected].
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Marchella Richardson
8 months ago

Love my Dores!!