Vanderbilt looked sluggish and slow playing in front of a sparsely populated Memorial Gym. It wasn't until after halftime that Damian Jones and Riley LaChance showed off the chops that could return this team to the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
Jones and LaChance combined for 42 points - including 19 in a 25-9 run that gave the 'Dores the lead for good - in Vandy's 99-79 win over Western Carolina on Tuesday night. It was Vanderbilt's highest scoring output of the season. They shot 55.3 percent from the field and outrebounded the Catamounts 34-18 en route to a comeback victory.
Sloppy defense allowed to Catamounts to build an early lead and prevent a Vandy comeback with key baskets as the clock wound down. WCU shot 62.1% from the floor en route to a 44-41 halftime advantage. They led by as many as 12 points as the 'Dores struggled to find their energy early on.
Vandy came out strong in the second half to claim their first lead since it was 10-9 four minutes into the game. Jones's strength was too much for the undersized Catamounts to match as he scored 10 of the team's first 14 points after the break to give the 'Dores a 55-51 advantage. A Torrion Brummitt layup cut that lead in half, but Riley LaChance responded with a three-pointer, a lay-up, and an and-one three-pointer to effectively bury WCU underneath a 12-0 home team run.
The Catamounts pulled to within 10 minutes later, but another Vandy run, this time with 11 straight points that included this:
thunderous dunk from Shelton Mitchell, iced this win for the 'Dores.
Riley LaChance followed up his career high 26 points against Purdue by scoring another 26 against WCU. James Siakam had a season-high 20 points and Damian Jones added 16 of his own. Rhett Harrelson led the Catamounts with 22 points and enough trash talking to power a small blimp.
The win improved Vanderbilt to 8-2 on the season. Western Carolina fell to 3-7. The Commodores will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech.