Maxwell Evans scored a career-high 16 points to lead five Vanderbilt players scoring in double figures and the host Commodores defeated pesky Southeastern Louisiana 78-70 at Nashville on Monday night.
Scotty Pippen Jr. scored 15 points, Aaron Nesmith, who came in averaging 25.2 points, scored just 14, Saben Lee had 12 and Dylan Disu added 11 for Vanderbilt (5-1).
Sophomore guard Ty Brewer had game highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds for SELA, which also got 11 points from guard Brandon Gonzalez.
The Lions held the lead inside 15 minutes to play, but Pippen Jr. found an open Disu for a 3-pointer with 14:12 remaining, giving Vandy its biggest lead of the night to that point at 45-42.
After a Pippen rebound, Vandy got out in transition and Disu assisted Nesmith on an open corner jumper trey just 16 seconds later.
The Commodores’ lead grew to nine but their 6:08 field-goal drought kept SELA within striking distance late. Evans sank a layup and then a 3-pointer then at 4:11 to give Vanderbilt a 66-59 advantage.
Gonzalez sank two free throws at 3:45 to cut Vandy’s lead to five, but that was as close as the Lions got.
Between Brewer’s play and Vanderbilt’s cold shooting — starting 5 of 19 from the field — the Lions controlled most of the first half until Vandy rallied late.
SELA jumped out to a 10-3 lead as Brewer had six of those points, including a breakaway dunk. The Lions outrebounded Vanderbilt 9-2 during the run.
Pippen ignited a spurt past the midway point of the first half by hitting a mid-range jumper. Seconds later, he picked up a steal and fed Disu for a fast-break dunk.
Pippen drove to the basket and missed a layup, but Vandy center Ejike Obinna got fouled putting back the rebound and hit the free throw with 5:45 left in the half to tie the score.
Vandy took its first lead when Nesmith hit a step-back 3-pointer from the right side, making it 30-29 with 2:08 remaining before halftime. Lee’s contested 3 with 55 seconds left put ahead the Commodores 33-31 at intermission.
—Field Level Media