No. 15 VU Downs UMass 97-88Video Reaction, Quotes & Photos

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Massachusetts focused its defense on Shan Foster and still couldn’t stop him.

Vanderbilt’s senior swingman scored 32 points and swished a 3-pointer that all but sealed the Commodores’ 97-88 victory over the Minutemen on Saturday.

Foster made eight of 12 3-pointers as No. 15 Vanderbilt (15-0) extended the best start in school history.

“Foster is the best player I’ve seen this year,” UMass coach Travis Ford said. “He had 32 points, and we had a hand in his face on every shot.”

Massachusetts made a final charge, chopping a 12-point deficit to 84-78 with 3:10 left on a layup and free throw by Ricky Harris. But Foster, the leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference, hit a 3 from the left corner with 2:29 remaining that made it 87-78.

Foster put on a shooting display despite facing tight defense.

“I guess I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. “I have to hit tough shots in practice, so it makes me comfortable in the game.”

The Commodores trailed by 14 points in the first half and nine in the second before charging back on the strength of their 3-point shooting. Vanderbilt was 13-of-23 from beyond the arc while the Minutemen were 6-of-20.

Andrew Ogilvy added 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Commodores.

UMass (11-3) led 50-41 with 16:52 remaining before Vanderbilt rallied. Foster’s 3-pointer made it 66-64, and Keegan Bell followed with another to give the Commodores a 67-65 lead with 9:23 to go. They never trailed again.

Vanderbilt began to pull away when Jermaine Beal and Foster made consecutive 3-pointers, followed by a jumper by Beal and free throw by Ogilvy to push the lead to 84-72.

Harris scored 25 points, and Chris Lowe and Gary Forbes each added 22 to lead Massachusetts.

With the Commodores making only four of their first 16 shots, UMass raced to a 27-13 lead with 9:28 left in the first half on a free throw by Tony Gaffney.

Moments later, the Commodores reeled off a 14-0 run, igniting the Memorial Gymnasium crowd of 13,750, and grabbed their first lead of the game at 30-29 with 4:31 left in the half. Foster and Beal each scored five points in the flurry.

Foster hit four three-pointers in the first half and scored 16 points.

“Our guys kept grinding and kept fighting,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “We finally got [UMass] slowed down.”

Harris scored 13 points in the first half to stake the Minutemen to a 37-36 halftime lead.

“You have to give Vandy credit,” Ford said. “They’re one of the best teams I’ve seen. They have a lot of weapons. I was hoping Vanderbilt wouldn’t bring their ‘A’ game and that we’d have a shot.”