Vanderbilt didn't find their rhythm until the final minutes of their NIT matchup against Stanford. By then, it was too late.
The Commodores looked disjointed and a step behind much of the night in a 78-75 loss to the Cardinal in Palo Alto. The defeat wasted a solid performance from Matthew Fisher-Davis, who had 18 points (all on threes) in the loss. James Siakam had 14 points and seven rebounds in his final game as a Commodore.
Both teams started slow, probably due to the pressure of playing in front of a crowd of hundreds. Stanford built an early 22-15 lead thanks to Vandy's poor shooting, but the Commodores turned it on from long range to keep pace with the home team. A handful of missed layups and defensive brainfarts kept Stanford in the lead, but it was mostly Anthony Brown's scoring that put the Cardinal up 36-31 at the break. Brown led all scorers with 17 points in the first half.
The Commodores failed to find their bearings in the locker room. Stupid fouls, blown coverages, and missed layups haunted the team in the second half while Stanford opened up a 52-41 lead. Vandy was dealt another blow when they lost Luke Kornet - at that point the team's leading scorer - when he caught an elbow to the face that knocked him out of the game. Anthony Brown was called for a flagrant foul for the contact, but it was clear that the big Texan's night was over when he struggled to get back to his feet afterward.
That foul seemed to energize the 'Dores. Vandy went on a 14-5 run that cut the home team lead to 57-55 with 7:48 to play, but they couldn't sustain that momentum. A 2:58 scoring drought allowed the Cardinal to extend their lead back out to eight points thanks to a significant advantage at the free throw line. Stanford shot 24 freebies in the second half to stem Vandy's momentum late in the game.
However, it was a pair of dagger threes from Brown and Chasson Randle that effectively squashed Vanderbilt's NIT hopes. The Cardinal duo pushed Stanford's lead to 11 points with 2:24 left. The Commodores rallied back thanks to Matthew Fisher-Davis's shooting and James Siakam's toughness inside, but it was too little, too late. A Stanford turnover and a Fisher-Davis three made it 77-75 in favor of the bad guys, but the freshman's next shot was a forced look from 30 feet away that missed the rim entirely. He had one more chance after Marcus Allen missed a pair of free throws, but his heavily guarded halfcourt heave caromed into the stands to end Vanderbilt's season.
Vanderbilt's season has ended with tonight's loss. Stanford will move on to face the winner of Murray State and Old Dominion in the NIT semifinals in New York City. They'll be back in action next Tuesday in the NCAA's *other* final four.