Vanderbilt steadily built a big lead throughout the first half and never trailed, handing Davidson a 76-71 loss at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday night.
Guard Scotty Pippen Jr. led the Commodores (8-4) with 18 points, followed by Aaron Nesmith (17), Saben Lee (11) and Dylan Disu (10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds).
The Wildcats (6-6) struggled to get their two leading scorers, guards Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson, going before it was too late. The two were a combined 9-for-23 from the floor as they scored 16 and 12 points, respectively.
Guards Carter Collins added 13 points while Hyunjung Lee and Mike Jones scored 10 apiece.
Nesmith hit a baseline jumper to open the second half, followed by guard Jordan Wright’s floater in the lane to stretch the Commodores’ lead to 48-27 in the first 90 seconds of the frame. Pippen’s short jumper from the right side at 15:48 made it 56-32, giving Vanderbilt its biggest lead of the night.
Davidson put Vandy in the bonus at 10:42. Gudmundsson picked up his fourth foul 32 seconds later, and Pippen hit 1 of 2 free throws to make the lead 20 points again at 62-42. The Wildcats mounted a comeback nonetheless, thanks in part to Vanderbilt’s 22.7-percent second-half shooting.
Grady’s 3 from the right side made it 64-50 and Collins’ driving layup followed by a free throw with 6:24 left got the Wildcats within 11, the closest they’d been since the first half.
A Gudmundsson 3 with 51.7 seconds left cut it to 72-66, but Vanderbilt grabbed seemingly every loose ball the rest of the way to deny the Wildcats enough possessions to complete the rally.
Vanderbilt shot 68 percent in building a 44-27 halftime lead.
Davidson didn’t score until the 16:56 mark of the first half on a Collins layup, which cut Vandy’s lead to 7-2. The lead became 11-2 after Disu’s foul shot and 3-pointer.
The Wildcats got within one by forcing eight Commodore turnovers in the first 11 1/2 minutes with an effective zone that and held Nesmith scoreless until 3:37 remained in the first half.
But Vandy’s defense on the other end was even better. Guard Max Evans’ steal led to a Pippen lay-in with 5:35 left in the half, to which Lee added a long 3 at 4:30 for a 29-16 lead.
Nesmith’s fast-break dunk made it 36-19 with 2:48 left, and Lee’s 3 from the left side stretched the lead to 19 at 39-20 with 2:11 left in the half.
—Field Level Media