Vanderbilt holds off St. Mary's 72-70
Jeffery Taylor scored 19 points and Jermaine Beal added 16, leading Vanderbilt to a 72-70 victory over St. Mary's on Friday night in the first meeting between the teams. Andre Walker had 14 points for the Commodores (2-0). Omar Samhan scored 25 points and grabbed 18 points for St. Mary's (2-1), and freshman guard Matthew Dellavedova had 19 points. St. Mary's cut Vanderbilt's lead to 71-70 with 9.3 seconds left when Ben Allen grabbed a loose ball and scored from the key. After Vanderbilt inbounded the ball, Mickey McConnell quickly fouled Vanderbilt's Brad Tinsley. He made one of two free throws, making it 72-70. Clint Steindl's 3-point try at the buzzer went in and out, and the Commodores escaped with a victory. Vanderbilt opened the second half with a 9-0 run, building a 48-39 lead with 17:30 left. Taylor ignited the burst with a fast-break slam after a Gaels turnover. Moments later he had another slam at the end of a break. Walker made it 44-39, scoring inside on yet another fast break. Samhan finally ended the Gaels' drought with put-back with 16:45 left, but the Commodores went on another run, this time outscoring St. Mary's 9-2 to take a 57-43 lead. St. Mary's, though, quickly got back into the game. The Gaels sliced Vanderbilt's 14-point lead to just one at 59-58. Dellavedova's high-arcing 3-point shot from well beyond the top of the key made it 59-53. Then McConnell scored from long range, and Samham scored inside. But Vanderbilt went on a 6-2 spurt and held off the Gaels down the stretch. Vanderbilt grabbed a 40-39 lead in a back-and-forth first half. Beal led the way with 11 first-half points, while Taylor added 10. Dellavedova, one of five Australians playing for St. Mary's, took a while to get going in the first half, but he got hot and wound up with 12 first-half points and six assists. Samham carried the Gaels early, scoring 13 quick points and lifting St. Mary's to a 20-15 lead. During one two-minute span, Dellavedova drilled long 3-point shot, made a driving lay-in and hit two free throws. That put the Gaels ahead 32-24 with 6:52 left in the half, but the Commodores answered. Steve Tchiengang scored on a put-back, and then Beal drained a 3-pointer and scored on a back-door layup, cutting the lead to 32-31. St. Mary's has been tough to beat at home. The Gaels had been 32-2 at McKeon Pavilion over the last three years and 92-31 in coach Randy Bennett's nine-plus seasons. Against non-conference opponents, St. Mary's had had won 26 of its previous 28 home games.