A Loss to Learn From

Vandy suffers first defeat of the season, 78-67 to No. 25 Richmond

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Maybe it was the noon tipoff. Maybe it was that Vanderbilt is still without three of its student-athletes due to COVID-19 protocols. Maybe it was because the Spiders were an angry bunch coming off a Sunday loss.

Whatever the reason, the Commodores played all out of sorts and without much energy for the first 20 minutes inside Memorial Gymnasium. Richmond took full advantage to the tune of a 45-21 lead.

Vandy was way better in the second half – so much so that it chopped the deficit to nine with still 10 minutes to go.

But a veterans Spiders’ squad stood its ground and held on for a 78-67 victory and handed coach Jerry Stackhouse’s team its first loss.

“I think we weren’t playing tough,” said sophomore point guard Scotty Pippen Jr., who matched a career-high with 25 points. “They came out and were able to run whatever they wanted to run and weren’t on our principles. And then offensively, things that weren’t going for us in the first half – we can’t let that dictate our defense and I feel like that’s what we did today.

“We weren’t hitting shots and we just let them come back and do whatever they wanted to do.”

Vanderbilt was 6 of 23 in the first half and turned the ball over eight turnovers. And perhaps no two plays were indicative of the way things were going then right before the end of the half.

Richmond held the ball for the final shot going into the break and excited a perfect play to a driving Nathan Cayo for an easy layup. Jacob Gilyard then stole the ensuing inbound pass and dished to to Connor Crabtree for a layup just before the buzzer sounded.

“(Stackhouse) was pretty fired up (at halftime) just letting us know it’s about the experience at this point,” Pippen said. “Are we going to fight back? It’s not about Xs and Os, there’s nothing he can write on the board for us to be able to get back in the game. So we’re going to have to fight back to win.

“He just said we got to play tougher, he’s going to put in the guys that want to win, he’s going to put in the guys that want to play tough and if you don’t you’re not going to play.”

When the Commodores emerged from the locker room, Vanderbilt strength and conditioning coach Dr. Carlos Daniel gathered the team in a huddle and gave them some words of encouragement. Pippen said he asked the Dores that if they weren’t going to compete for the next 20 minutes then why were they even here?

The fire was lit.

Vandy scored as many points in the first five minutes of the second half as it did in the first half. Freshman guard Trey Thomas was finally able to get the deficit under 10 when his left-corner 3 made it 63-54 with 10:06 to play.

But the momentum ran out. Richmond stood back up and went back to making shots down the stretch.

“Disappointed with our start today,” Stackhouse said. “I thought our guys were a little bit more prepared to start the game, but we were just soft in a lot of ways. I thought we were a lot better in the second half once we regrouped.

“Went a little bit small to try to speed the game up a little bit and try to get some more opportunities work for us. We had some opportunities to try to close the gap a little more but weren’t able to make the big run that we wanted.”

Vanderbilt turns its attention to Radford (3-4) for a 7 p.m. contest Saturday. It knows that it can’t let the first lost of the season turn into the second and vowed Wednesday to take the lessons learned from the defeat to the Spiders seriously.

“We got some guys out and it’s a great opportunity to see some guys who can really help us. I think we’re finding that out,” Stackhouse said. “Finding some guys that we feel can do some things on both ends of the floor and those are the guys that I’m going to roll with.

“As guys continue to work they can possibly end themselves back into the rotation but I’m not going to try to force-feed anybody. I’m going to go with the guys that give us the best chance to win. This was a good test in us figuring some of those things out.”


DJ Harvey, Myles Stute and Clevon Brown were unavailable to play Wednesday.

Tyrin Lawrence, Dylan Disu, Pippen, Maxwell Evans and Quentin Millora-Brown started Wednesday’s game for the Commodores. The second straight game with that starting five.

• Pippen is now 24-for-24 from the line for the season and has made 25 straight free throws dating back to last season.

• Vanderbilt has now made at least four 3s in 18 consecutive games.

• The Commodores are now 2-3 all-time against Richmond and 27-14 against programs out of the Atlantic-10 Conference.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.