The Bobcats put up a tough fight Sunday night in Nashville but were once again unable to pull through, losing to the Vanderbilt University Commodores 79-60.
Texas State started the first half strong with a pair of triples from senior guards Mason Harrell and Caleb Asberry. Harrell added a mid-range jump shot to give Texas State a 10-2 lead to open the game.
Vanderbilt’s junior guard Jordan Wright responded by scoring five straight points. He then stole the ball and pushed it up to junior guard Scottie Pippen Jr., who drew the shooting foul and connected on both free throws closing the gap to 10-9.
Later, sophomore forward Myles Stute drained back-to-back three-point jumpers, giving Vanderbilt a 15-12 lead. Junior guard Drue Drinnon fired back for Texas State with six straight points of his own, including an and-one layup, bringing the score to 18-15.
Stute’s three-pointer at 13:37 in the first half would be the last field goal Vanderbilt would make for the next nine minutes. However, the team was able to keep pace with the Bobcats due to their ability to get to the line. Vanderbilt finished the first half with nine made free throws to Texas State’s one.
Vanderbilt sophomore forward Terren Frank hit on a corner three with 4:31 left in the first to tie the game at 23 apiece. Harrell and senior forward Isiah Small added a couple of mid-range buckets, but Wright responded with a wild before the buzzer three-pointer that gave Vanderbilt a 32-27 halftime lead.
Vanderbilt’s aggressive defense had Texas State's offense struggling in the half-court, but the Bobcats were able to make up for that in the first half by winning the battle on the boards. They collected 19 first-half rebounds to Vanderbilt’s 15. Four of those were offensive rebounds that resulted in second-chance points.
However, Vanderbilt came out of halftime hot, going on an 11-0 run that was powered by points off turnovers. The run was halted by a pair of made free throws from junior forward Tyrel Morgan, making the score 43-29.
Harrell would go on to knock down two freebies, dish out a dime on a feed to sophomore forward Nate Martin inside, and tossed another to Morgan for an open three. Vanderbilt traded back a few of its own buckets, including a jumper from Pippen Jr. that brought its lead up 50-36.
The Bobcats had no quit in them as they began to pick up the intensity on defense and pressured the ball in a similar manner to what Vanderbilt had been doing to them all game. The Bobcats were also finally able to find their way to the line when they went on a 13-3 run with seven made free throws and two nice makes from three-point land courtesy of Asberry and Harrell. The run brought the game to the closest it ever was in the second half at 53-49.
That’s about when Vanderbilt started to put its foot on the gas. Pippen Jr. took over with a 5-0 run of his own and an assist on a three-pointer a few possessions later. That three from sophomore guard Trey Thomas gave the Commodores a double-digit lead once more at 61-51.
Harrell and Morgan made a couple more mid-range jumpers to bring it back to 63-55, but Vanderbilt retorted with three straight triples, essentially sealing the game at 72-55 with 2:36 left in the second half.
The Bobcats weren’t able to keep their advantage on the boards, finishing the game with 35 rebounds to Vanderbilt’s 33. They also lost the turnover battle with 14 to the Commodores' eight. An inability to consistently penetrate the defense and get good looks at the basket really hurt the ‘Cats as they shot a wretched 34% from the field.
Harrell led the ‘Cats in scoring with 16 points, Asberry finished second with 11 points but only made 33% of his shots. Martin led the team with nine rebounds, and also added in six points of his own.
Pippen Jr. was the game’s top scorer with 30 points including four made threes. Wright and Stute were the Commodores' other two double-digit scorers adding 16 and 12 respectively.
Next up, the Bobcats head to California to compete in the CSUN Good Sam Empire Classic. They’ll open up the first round against the Dixie State Trailblazers at 1 p.m. on Friday at the Matadome. The Bobcats will face either CSUN or Eastern Washington at 2 p.m. or 10 p.m.