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January 5, 2008

No. 15 Vandy beats UMass to stay perfect

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-No.15 Vanderbilt remained unbeaten on the season with a thrilling 97-88 victory over visiting Massachusetts at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

The Commodores were led by Shan Foster (32 points), Andrew Ogilvy (25) and Jermaine Beal (19). Foster was an incredible 8-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc.

"Well I'm guessing if you like basketball, then you have to enjoy that," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said after the game. "I thought that was a very well played game by two very good teams. Obviously we are extremely happy to have come out on the long end of it."

The visiting Minutemen, who entered the game at 14th in the RPI and riding a six game winning streak, proved to be the Commodores' toughest test of the non-conference schedule. Massachusetts opened the game with a 27-13 lead in the first 10 minutes of play.

The Commodores finally got untracked when Foster sunk his third 3-pointer of the game to ignite a 17-2 run, giving Vandy its first lead of the game.

The Minutemen tied the game at 30 with a Gary Forbes free throw, and took the lead with a 3 from sophomore guard Ricky Harris. Harris then converted a layup to move the lead to 37-34 before Foster closed out the half with a jumper at the 1:08 mark.

Massachusetts junior guard Chris Lowe got the Minutemen off to a great start in the second half as the 6-foot, 160-pound New Yorker scored the first seven points of the stanza, establishing an early 43-36 UMass lead.

After Beal's 3 closed the gap to 45-41 with 17:34 to go, the Minutemen stretched lead back to nine when senior forward Etienne Brower converted two free throws.

The visitors clung to a 65-64 lead with 9:39 to play before Vanderbilt freshman guard Keegan Bell drained his second 3-pointer of the half to give the Commodores a 67-65 lead, capping a 26-15 Vanderbilt run.

Vanderbilt stretched the lead to 12 points on two separate occasions in the final four minutes of play to claim its 15th victory of the season.

. The eight 3-pointers by Foster moved the Louisiana native into a tie with former Commodore Ronnie McMahan for the school's all-time career 3-pointers made mark. The All-American candidate also secured eight rebounds and three assists.

"Our guys kept grinding and kept fighting and finally, I don't know if fatigue or just that Shan Foster just kept making one unbelievable shot after another, but we finally got them settled down," Stallings said.

"[Vanderbilt's 2-3] zone, I think, hurt them a little bit late, but they are really a good team. It was a fun game to coach in and a hard game to prepare for in one game cause that is a team that keeps coming after you."

Freshman center Ogilvy grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, all coming in the second half, to post his second career double-double. Beal's 19 was a career-high. He was six-of-10 from the field, including three 3-pointers.

Ricky Harris tied his career-high with 25 points to lead the Minutemen, who dropped to 11-3 on the season. Senior Gary Forbes added 22 on the night but committed six turnovers while point guard Chris Lowe also chipped in 22 points.

"You can look at the defensive numbers and say, well they scored 88 but we held them to under 42-percent, 33-percent from 3, there are some good numbers there for us," Stallings said. "But we're really pleased with the win and I'm really proud of our team to go through the non-conference push undefeated. It was an awesome thing."

Vanderbilt returns to the court on Wednesday to host the Southeastern Conference opener against South Carolina at 7 p.m. Central. The game will be televised on the Fox Sports Network.


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