NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Senior guard Alex Gordon sank his first of two free-throw attempts with 2.2 seconds to play, giving Vanderbilt an 80-79 win over Tusculum in exhibition play on Monday at Memorial Gym.
Led by four players in double figures, including a team-high 17 by Gordon and freshman A.J. Ogilvy, who was making his college debut, the Commodores led by as many as 21 points in the second half but were unable to hold their advantage over the Pioneers, who made 13 three-pointers compared to just 4 by the Commodores. The Pioneers were also sparked by the play of sophomore Kyle Moore, who finished with a game-high 30 points, including 18 in the second half, on 10-of-18 shooting.
After taking an 18-point lead with 7:37 to play following a pair of free throws by Gordon, Tusculum came roaring back to move within 3, 75-72, following a three-pointer by Ryan Troutman with 4:03 to play.
Subsequently, the Commodores were able to extend their lead to 6, 79-73, following a basket by Ross Neltner with 1:42 to play. Unfortunately, the cushion was short lived, as the Pioneers scored the next six points to knot the game at 79 apiece following a three-pointer by Tusculum's Jordan Lear with 30 seconds to play.
Following the three-pointer, the Commodores let the clock run down to five seconds before getting the ball to Gordon at the top of the key, where he drove into the paint and was fouled in the act of shooting with 2.2 seconds to play. Gordon made his first free-throw attempt before missing his second. Tusculum's last-second shot from beyond halfcourt caromed off the rafters, securing Vanderbilt's win.
The competitiveness and intensity of the game boiled over in the second half, as Tusculum head coach Jim Boone received a technical foul and was ejected with 8:37 to play. Following Boone's ejection, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings also received a technical with 5:40 to play.
In addition to leading the team in points, Gordon and Ogilvy also led the Commodores in rebounding with 7 apiece. Also scoring in double figures were seniors Ross Neltner and Alan Metcalfe, who each added 10. Vanderbilt shot 40 percent from the floor, while forcing 18 turnovers by Tusculum.
Leading 35-25 at the break, the Commodores opened the second half on fire, scoring 11 straight points on 4-of-4 shooting in addition to a free throw to expand their lead to 21, 46-25, with 17:10 to play. Ogilvy scored seven of the Commodores first 11 points of the half.
Vanderbilt's lead would be short lived, as Tusculum quickly cut into the Commodores' lead by going on a 20-8 run to pull within 9, 54-45, with 11:58 to play. Tusculum's charge was led by Moore, who scored 11 of the Pioneers' 18 points during the run.
Following the run by the Pioneers, Vanderbilt was able to expand its lead to 18, 71-53, with 7:37 to play before Tusculum came charging back again.
In the first half, Vanderbilt led from the start but was clinging to a one-point advantage, 15-14, with 9:30 to play, before a pair of free throws by Gordon spurred a 20-11 drive to end the half, giving Vanderbilt a 35-25 lead at the break.
The Commodores led by as many as 13 (35-22) during the half, while forcing 12 Tusculum turnovers. Vanderbilt was led at the break by Gordon and Ogilvy, who each poured in 9 points.
The Commodores will open the regular season at home on Saturday against Austin Peay at 7 p.m. The game will also be televised on CSS.