Vanderbilt out-rebounded and out-shot Richmond, but the Spiders just wouldn't go away. In the end, Kevin Anderson led his team to the victory and sent Vandy to their third straight first round loss in the NCAA Tournament, 69-66.
The Commodores' season ends with another disappointing NCAA loss; their third in their past three trips. Despite talented squads and favorable matchups, the ‘Dores haven't gotten out of the first game of the tournament since 2007.
Things looked rosy for Vanderbilt midway through the second half, as the team extended their lead to as many as 11 points. However, the game turned the way so many others had this season, and the team's double-digit lead soon evaporated.
A 12-0 run turned a Vanderbilt nine point lead into a three point deficit before the Commodores were able to respond. The Spiders were intent on proving their legitimacy, burying their three-point attempts and remaining active on the glass in the second half. Each time it looked like Vandy would pull away, Richmond had an answer.
The teams exchanged baskets through the second half as neither team was able to pull away. Richmond used some clutch performances to maintain their lead, and in the end Vanderbilt was unable to keep up, missing big free throws and failing to stop the Spiders or secure key rebounds as the game wore on. It was a microcosm of Vandy's season as a whole - the team was simply unable to sustain a solid 40 minute performance, and they paid the price in the end.
Festus Ezeli was nearly unstoppable for the Commodores, but wasn't enough to secure the win. He finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. John Jenkins was explosive in the first half but had little impact as the game wore on, scoring just five points in the final 18 minutes - all on free throws. Kevin Anderson drove the Spiders with 25 points (on 24 shots), including five big points in the final three minutes.
With the loss, another Vanderbilt season comes to a disappointing end, and fans are left to wonder what went wrong. The 2010-2011 team was arguably one of the most talented to set foot in Nashville, yet none of this team's rotational players have won a NCAA Tournament game. For the fourth straight year, Vanderbilt shrunk in the clutch, and the only thing that the fans can glean from it is a nasty taste in their mouths as March Madness wears on.