March 2, 2012
This is the 60th season of basketball in Memorial Gymnasium. To commemorate the occasion, VUCommodores.com will commit the next five days to recall 60 of the most memorable moments from men's and women's basketball games played on Vanderbilt's home court. Each day, VUCommodores.com will reveal 12 historical moments, totaling 60 by Friday. The moments will not be listed by rank.
Submit Your Memorable Moments | Recalling 60 Seasons at Memorial Gym
Moments 1-12 | 13-24 | 25-36 | 37-48
|49)||Jan. 6, 1959||MBB: Filling in for Bob Polk, Roy Skinner leads Vanderbilt past No. 1 Kentucky|
Roy Skinner's life would change forever on Nov. 7, 1958 when he hopped into a car alongside Vanderbilt Head Coach Bob Polk for a recruiting trip to Paducah, Ky., to see Don Ringstaff play. Polk would suffer a heart attack on the trip and Skinner would drive him to the hospital, where Polk would stay for the next three months. With Polk sidelined, Skinner became interim coach.
Almost two months later, at just 28-years old, Skinner found himself on the bench for his first signature win as the Commodores defeated No. 1 Kentucky 75-66 on Jan. 6, 1959.
"It wasn't really a problem," said Skinner of coaching in such an important game at such a young age. "Coaching is the same on all levels - high school, college and so on. You just adjust to what the situation is at the time."
Kentucky was the defending national champions and had won 16 in a row, including 11 straight that season.
But Skinner and the Commodores picked this night to rain on the Wildcats' parade in front of 7,500 fans packed into Memorial Gym.
"It was simply wonderful," Skinner said. "There's no substitute for old-fashioned hustle and our men have shown more and more of it every game this year."
Vanderbilt led by 19 points, but had to hold on at the end with clutch free throws by Jim Henry (pictured), who made 10-of-12 freebies down the stretch and finished with 29 points. Fifteen of Henry's points came in the first half.
"We caught Kentucky feeling a little fat," Skinner said. "We had them on the ropes before they knew what had happened. We shot well but we should have. Our shots were real close in."
After the win the fans stormed the court and carried Skinner and some of the Commodores to the locker room.
"Vanderbilt played a great game," Kentucky Head Coach Adolph Rupp said. "They deserved to win. We were flat and Vanderbilt took full advantage of it. I warned that we were living on borrowed time. It now remains to be seen if we can rebound."
Polk would return to coach the Commodores again the next season. Skinner would get his shot as Vanderbilt's head coach in 1962 and would hold the seat until 1976 when he quietly announced his retirement hours after the team had lost an overtime game against Alabama. He would finish his career with a school-record 278 victories.
|50)||Dec. 4, 1967||MBB: Perry Wallace breaks the SEC color barrier with first home game|
Vanderbilt's Perry Wallace became the first African-American varsity basketball player in the SEC in 1967. Wallace made his Commodore debut on the road as Vanderbilt defeated SMU, 88-84, in overtime on Dec. 2. Two days later, Wallace played in his first game at Memorial Gym as the Commodores defeated Auburn, 78-65 on Dec. 4, 1967.
Wallace remained poised throughout his Vanderbilt career despite hearing threats and taunting along the way. On this historic night, Wallace started and finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Vanderbilt was beaten on the boards in the first half, but came to life in the second half behind Wallace, who had three offensive tip-ins.
"I felt my composure was better tonight until I got hit," said Wallace, who was hit in the back of the head by an Auburn player, but the officials did not catch it. "I got another blow. Then things sort of leveled off. They come with the game and later on I wasn't upset by them."
Tom Hagan led Vanderbilt with 28 points in the win.
The game was Vanderbilt's earliest SEC opener since 1942. During the offseason, two balconies were added to the south side of the gym, which increased capacity of the arena to 11,200. Every seat was sold in season tickets before the opening game.
Years later, Wallace would reflect on the approach he took as a trailblazer in the SEC.
"Willing to take insults, willing to be in tense situations and not react precipitously, demonstrate competence and trustworthiness, be a worthy American," Wallace said. "That was kind of the strategy and I never broke out of it."
|51)||Jan. 22, 1973||MBB: Freshman Joe Ford's free throws beat Kentucky before record crowd|
The same day George Foreman defeated Joe Frazier to claim the heavyweight title with a second round TKO in Kingston, Jamaica, Vanderbilt freshman Joe Ford delivered a knockout of his own to Kentucky.
A native of Mayfield, Ky., Ford (pictured) was fouled and made two free throws with three seconds left to deliver a 76-75 win over Kentucky on Jan. 22, 1973.
"There was a great deal of pressure when I shot that first one, but once we had the game tied, the pressure wasn't so bad on the winning shot," said Ford, who was also recruited by Kentucky. "I didn't have any choice but to shoot because I knew how short the time was getting. The foul call was a good one, because we collided as I was shooting."
After Ford's free throws, Kentucky attempted a long shot at the basket, but it was off target.
Vanderbilt had a three point lead, 74-71, after 7-foot-4 Steve Turner blocked a shot by Jim Andrews and caught it in mid-air to give VU an opportunity to stall. However, Vanderbilt's Bill Ligon turned the ball over and he then misfired on a shot. The crack was all Kentucky needed as Jimmy Dan Conner made two free throws and Ronnie Lyons made an 18-footer to put Kentucky up, 75-74, with 13 seconds remaining. Ford would do the rest after getting fouled on a drive to the basket.
"We thought they would press us, so we set up to get a shot as quickly as possible," Vanderbilt Head Coach Roy Skinner said. "Thirteen seconds can evaporate mighty quickly. We wanted to penetrate as far in as possible and Ford finally wound up with the shot."
Vanderbilt trailed by as many as 18 points before rallying back.
"I can't say I wasn't worried in the last half when we trailed by as many as 18 points," Skinner said. "But we were never short on effort. We stood tall tonight on effort and plain ol' guts. Joe Ford was just tremendous under all that pressure, but that's typical of Ford. He responds to pressure."
A crowd of 16,111 were in attendance for the game, which at the time was the largest crowd ever to see an SEC game. After Kentucky's final shot was off, the crowd stormed the court and carried Ford off on their shoulders. The win had snapped a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats, who were under the direction of first-year Head Coach Joe B. Hall.
"When I was on top of those people, I didn't know whether I'd get out alive," Ford said. "What a tremendous crowd."
|52)||Feb. 2, 1976||MBB: Keffer's 35-footer drops Ole Miss|
An ice storm on Groundhog's Day may have gridlocked Nashville's roads, but it did not stop Vanderbilt from playing its game against Ole Miss, which was won on a 35-footer at the buzzer by Dicky Keffer. Keffer's shot hit the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded and dropped Ole Miss by one, 61-60, on Feb. 2, 1976.
With 11 seconds remaining, Ole Miss scored to go up 60-59. After a timeout by Vanderbilt, the Commodores advanced the ball past mid-court, where Keffer (pictured) passed it to Jeff Fosnes. As Fosnes rose up to take the final shot, he realized he could not get it off over the two defenders on him, so he passed it back to Dicky while in mid-air. Keffer was caught off guard by the pass back to him, but he gathered himself enough to fire home the game-winner.
"When I passed the ball off to Jeff, there were six seconds left," Keffer said. "I looked. When he went up, I did not expect the pass back. But, he dropped it off. I didn't have time to think; I just turned it loose. The defensive man blocked my vision, but I saw it fall out of the bottom of the net. I knew it was shot in time to count, but I sure was happy to see that it went in. It was a big one."
Vanderbilt entered the game as a large favorite and the win kept the Commodores in second place.
"No, I didn't think Fosnes would pass it off," Vanderbilt Head Coach Roy Skinner said. "Fos went up and he really didn't have a shot. The pass was a great maneuver, quick thinking. His reaction and Keffer's shot will mean a great deal in this title race. And what a basket! I was never so happy t see one go in."
"I was going to shoot," Fosnes said. "I was already in the air when suddenly two guys were up there with me and I couldn't do anything but go back to Dicky. I guess I made a good choice."
Ole Miss coach Cob Jarvis believed that the Keffer did not get his shot off on time. He thought this because he believed that he saw official George Strauthers waving his arms that the basket was no good.
However, WNGE-TV taped the game and mixed it with a computerized timing mechanism that was synchronized with the tape to show that the shot was off before the buzzer sounded.
Because of the weather, only 1,800 die-hard fans were in attendance.
|53)||Feb. 4, 1987||WBB: Denton's free throws beat No. 5 Tennessee|
Deborah Denton hit two free throws with seven seconds to play to help seal a 77-76 Vanderbilt victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Feb. 4, 1987.
The game was played in front of 4,287 fans in what was the largest crowd ever to watch a women's game in Memorial Gym at the time. The 15th-ranked Commodores improved to 18-4 overall and 4-3 in the SEC. Tennessee fell to 15-4 overall.
"I prayed, I knew I would make them," Denton said. "I thanked God. He let me make them."
Denton's free throw gave Vanderbilt a 77-74 lead. Tennessee's Sheila Frost would add a basket at the end, but it was too late.
"After we lost to LSU on Sunday in overtime, everybody was saying that we couldn't win the big one," Vanderbilt's Karen Booker said "At the end of the game, all I could think about was the LSU game. The way we blew that LSU game was very vivid in my mind. We couldn't play so hard and lose this one, too."
The Commodores trailed by nine at the half before charging back. Vanderbilt would take a 72-62 lead with 6:23 to play, but Tennessee was not done. The Lady Vols' Sheila Frost scored 12 unanswered points to give Tennessee a 74-72 lead with two minutes left. With 1:47 remaining, Robin Adams knotted the score at 74 with a pair of free throws. However, the officials whistled the Commodores for a lane violation and the second free throw didn't count as Tennessee remained in front.
But on the next possession, Vanderbilt's Nicole Marcelli stole the ball from Tennessee and Denton hit a jump shot from the corner to put Vanderbilt in front 75-74 with 1:12 to play.
"I wanted the ball," Denton said of her shot. "I felt I had the hot hand and I love pressure."
Booker would steal the ball on Tennessee's next possession. Denton would miss a shot, but Marcelli was there for the rebound as the Commodores began to run clock. Vanderbilt almost lost the ball out of bounds with nine seconds to play, but Carolyn Peck saved it and gave it to Robin Adams. A Tennessee player forced a jump ball, but the Commodores retained possession.
"I was just trying to hold the ball," Adams said. "I thought I was fouled. The officials didn't."
"Sometimes you have to be both good and Lucky," Vanderbilt Head Coach Phil Lee said.
Denton (pictured) had 22 points and Booker scored 20 points. Tennessee's Sheila Frost led all scorers with 24 points.
Vanderbilt finished with 15 steals to Tennessee's eight, and the two steals down the stretch were extra important.
"Steals were the key to the game," Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt said. "If you look at the number of steals they had and the number we had, you'll see the big difference. We are a team which has to have more steals to win."
The unsung hero of the game was Marcelli, who scored six points, had three assists and four steals.
"I don't think you understand how big the rivalry between the two schools is until you play Tennessee as a freshman," Marcelli said. "I was pumped last year, but not like this year. There was no way I was going to feel as bad as I did after last year's loss. There was no way I was going to feel as bad as I did Sunday night after we lost to LSU in overtime. I didn't wan another sleepless night."
"Nicole came to play," Lee said. "She's a great athlete who had to learn to play the college game. I thought she was a big key for us."
|54)||Jan. 25, 1989||MBB: Thrown tennis balls cost the Commodores|
It is known simply as The Tennis Ball Game. With Vanderbilt in possession of the ball and leading Florida 72-70 with one second remaining, a person or persons in the crowd threw at least four tennis balls at Florida center Dwayne Schintzius. As a result, official John Clougherty issued a technical foul to the Commodores, which put Schintzius at the free throw line to tie the game.
He made both free throws to send the game to overtime and Florida would go on to defeat Vanderbilt 81-78 in overtime on Jan. 25, 1989. Vanderbilt would finish the season in second place, one game behind the Gators.
"This is the toughest loss I've ever been associated with," Vanderbilt Head Coach C.M. Newton said. "Whoever did that weren't Vanderbilt fans. They were two damn yokles who got carried away."
It was not the first time that season Schintzius was the target of thrown tennis balls at games. During the preseason, he had struck a student with a tennis racket in Gainesville, which had resulted in fans throwing tennis balls at him in games at Tennessee and Georgia. In both games, the act resulted in a technical foul just as it did against the Commodores.
"In my opinion, a game should not be decided by outside forces," Newton said. "Our basketball players had done nothing wrong, and the ball-throwing incident - while unfortunate and uncalled for - had absolutely no bearing on the game at that point."
Vanderbilt was aware of the potential for thrown tennis balls, so Athletic Director Roy Kramer instructed ushers to search for tennis balls as people entered the gym. Many tennis balls were confiscated, but not all. The crowd was also warned before the game that the act of throwing any object on the floor would result in a technical foul.
"We collected several at the doors, but there was no way to get them all, with people wearing coats," Kramer said.
In overtime, Schintzius outscored Vanderbilt 7-0 in the early minutes to put the game away.
Tell whoever it was threw the balls that Dwayne Schintzius thanks them very much," Schintzius said.
Before the tennis balls were thrown onto the court, Vanderbilt had virtually assured itself a victory. After a Florida miss, Vanderbilt's Frank Kornet was fouled. With six seconds showing, he nailed the first of a two-shot opportunity, but missed the second. Florida rebounded and passed the ball downcourt over the head of the intended receiver and it was VU's ball with one second left. Then the tennis balls came on the court.
"This was an incredible way to lose a game," Barry Goheen said. "Whoever did it (threw the balls) better run. They've got about 12 guys after them."
A main issue raised after the game was the lack of consistency in calling technical fouls in similar situations. Vanderbilt pointed to an incident earlier that season at Ole Miss when fans threw ice on the court and forced a delay, but no technical was called.
However, the SEC stood by Clougherty's decision. SEC Director of Officials John Guthrie said Clougherty, "simply followed league directive and we may need to reassess the policy."
Until his retirement, Clougherty had been booed at every Memorial Gymnasium game since that incident when his name was announced before a game.
"It was the proper call, Goheen said. "The crowd had been warned."
Florida Head Coach Norm Sloan was not surprised at the technical call.
|SUBMIT YOUR MOMENTS
Vanderbilt fell to 10-9 overall with the loss and 4-3 in the SEC. Barry Booker (pictured) finished with 23 points, 21 came on a school record seven three-point shots.
The loss came shortly after Newton had accepted a role as athletic director at Kentucky. He received a standing ovation from the crowd of 15,498 at introductions.
After the game, their was a near-hoax by an anonymous source that claimed a Florida law student was one of the individuals who throw tennis balls onto the court. After researching it further, it was determined that the student, David Huskey Jr., had not been the culprit.
Even to this day, the thought of the incident still irritates Vanderbilt's players, coaches and fans. Vanderbilt finished the season 19-14 overall and 12-6 in SEC, one game behind SEC Champion Florida (13-5).
"That tennis ball game still gives me a knot in my stomach to think about an SEC title that got away that year, with that game being a part of it," Booker said.
|55)||Jan. 13, 1993||MBB: Vanderbilt crushes No. 1 Kentucky, 101-86|
Led by Billy McCaffrey's 22 points and school-record 14 assists, Vanderbilt dominated No. 1 Kentucky 101-86 on Jan. 13, 1993. The 15-point margin of victory is tied for the ninth largest margin of victory in NCAA history by an unranked team over the No. 1 team (through 2011 season).
Kentucky led 16-8 in the early going, but Vanderbilt came back to tie the game at 46 at halftime before pulling away in the second frame.
"It's a good win for Vanderbilt; offensively we were really terrific," Vanderbilt Head Coach Eddie Fogler said. "I'm really proud of this team to come back after a heartbreaking loss last Saturday at Florida and play this way."
McCaffrey a junior transfer from Duke would go on to win SEC Player of the Year.
"We felt going in that we could at least give them a good game," McCaffrey said. "As the game went on, we began to realize we could win it."
Kentucky had won 12 straight games to open the season with its last loss coming to Duke in the infamous Christian Laettner shot in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
Chris Lawson had 19 points, Ronnie McMahan had 16 points and Bruce Elder had 10.
"Dan played extremely well," Fogler said. "Ronnie came back and played better. Really the whole team had to play better and everyone did tonight. We got great shots."
Dan Hall, a Gilbertsville, Ky., native came off the bench with 8 points and a game-high 9 rebounds.
"It's a lot more fun going back home after you've beat Kentucky," Hall said. "It's Memorial Magic; seems like every year we beat someone ranked high here. I think it's the best all-around game we've played."
Defensively, Vanderbilt held Jamal Mashburn and his 23.4 scoring average to just 14 points. Travis Ford and Rodrick Rhodes had 18 for Kentucky in the loss.
There was a sold-out crowd of 15,317 in attendance. Vanderbilt made 36 of 43 free throws and Kentucky made 10 of 19 free throws.
"I don't think there is a No. 1 team; certainly we weren't," Kentucky Head Coach Rick Pitino said.
|56)||Jan. 30, 1993||WBB: Record crowd attends showdown between No. 1 VU and No. 2 Tennessee|
Never has there been more intrigue and build up for a women's basketball game at Memorial Gym as there was on Jan. 30, 1993, when the women's basketball universe was centered in Nashville, for a matchup between the nation's top two teams.
No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt played host to No. 2-ranked Tennessee. The Lady Vols would win the game 73-68 before a sold-out crowd of 15,317. The crowd was and remains the largest in school history and all tickets sold out 16 days before the game.
There was such an interest in the game that the fire marshall had to guard the doors more than one hour before tip-off after there was not any room left inside the building. Among those kept outside that day was former Vanderbilt's Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt.
Hundreds of fans did not get in the game because of a promotional ticket used that season that enabled fans to use a ticket to get into any game, and many fans chose the Tennessee game to use the ticket. As a result, some of the 13,250 fans who had purchased tickets for the game were unable to get in because there were so many using promotional tickets.
The large crowd created a festive atmosphere that both teams fed off of throughout the game.
"Let me just say this to the media," Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt said. "You all did an unbelievable job in promoting this game, in talking this game up, in generating a sellout. I'd just like to say thank you to all of you and thank you for believing in women's basketball. It mean's a lot to all of us."
Either team could have won the game. Vanderbilt's Shelley Jarrard hit a three-pointer with 33 seconds left to pull within one, 69-68. Tennessee came up empty on its next possession, which gave Vanderbilt a chance to take the lead when Rhonda Blades went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one with 10 seconds to play.
Blades missed the front end and Tennessee rebounded and was fouled immediately. Tennessee's Tiffany Woosley then made two free throws with six seconds to play to give the Lady Vols a 71-68 lead to clinch a victory.
"I would like to say that the crowd and the pressures of the game had some effect on me," Blades said. "But, they didn't. I rushed the foul shot. And I missed.
Vanderbilt made just 12-of-20 free throws and Tennessee made 19-of-22. Vanderbilt lost despite shooting 54.3 percent from the floor compared to Tennessee, who shot 38.2 percent.
"We beat ourselves. We put ourselves in a position to win and didn't. We missed foul shots late and most of them were mine. It's just a lack of concentration."
Vanderbilt had moved into the No. 1 spot in the rankings on Jan. 4 and the loss to the Lady Vols was its first of the season as the Commodores fell to 17-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC. Heidi Gillingham led the way with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks.
"It's tough to lose any game, but we knew at the start of the season it's awfully hard to go undefeated," Vanderbilt forward Misty Lamb said. "It was a game that a lot of fans went crazy over. For us, it was just another game in the middle of the season. Our goal is a national championship, not an undefeated season. We'll learn a lot from this game."
Tennessee improved to 18-1 overall and 6-0 SEC.
"I'm telling you folks, this game could have gone either way," Summitt said. "Vanderbilt executes better than any basketball team in the nation and their shooters are as good as any around."
|57)||Feb. 16, 1996||WBB: Vanderbilt defeats No. 1 Georgia|
For the first time in school history, Vanderbilt's women's basketball team defeated the nation's No. 1-ranked team when the Commodores upset Georgia, 71-66, on Feb. 16, 1996.
Georgia had a 19-game winning streak before facing the Commodores, and was a team that was coming off of a Final Four appearance.
Vanderbilt was paced by Sheri Sam (pictured), who scored a career-high 32 points and outdueled Georgia All-American Saudia Roundtree, who was limited to just 6-of-25 shooting.
"I was excited because they are the No. 1 team in the nation," Sam said. "It was great to play a team like that."
Sam scored 20 of her points in the second half and also collected 10 rebounds in the game.
"When a player like Sam gets going like that, she's tough to stop," Georgia Head Coach Andy Landers said.
The game was played before a crowd of 8,176 - the fifth largest crowd in school history at the time. Vanderbilt was ranked No. 13 at the time of the win and improved to 18-5 overall and 6-4 in the SEC. The Commodores had lost five of their last eight games before upsetting Georgia.
Georgia fell to 21-3 overall and 9-1 in the SEC after having its second-longest winning streak of all-time snapped.
"I have absolutely no idea what happened," Roundtree said. "No idea."
|58)||Feb. 17, 2007||MBB: Vanderbilt defeats No. 1 Florida|
Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery
It was Vanderbilt's ball on its homecourt and no one, not even the nation's No. 1 team was going to take it from them. At least that is how it was perceived when Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings refused to hand the ball to Florida's Joakim Noah after a Commodore turnover during Vanderbilt's 83-70 win on Feb. 17, 2007.
Stallings' holding the ball from Noah until an official stepped in, was a lasting image from what was Vanderbilt's fifth all-time home win against the nation's No. 1 team.
Derrick Byars and Shan Foster each scored 24 points as the Commodores snapped the nation's longest winning streak and beat a team that had won the national championship in 2006 and would win it again in 2007.
"This is one for the ages," Byars said. "Twenty years from now, I'll be able to tell my little kids this. This is special. You can't explain it. You have to virtually be perfect, be as good as you've been all year. Guys did what they're supposed to do. Everybody stepped up."
Florida (24-3, 11-1 SEC) had won 35 of its last 37 games and had not lost since Dec. 3 at Florida State. The Gators had also won seven straight in the series. With the win the Commodores moved into second place in the SEC (18-8, 8-4 SEC).
"Well, that was a lot of fun," Stalling said. "Our team played with as much resolve and competitiveness as they possibly could. Shan (Foster) and Derrick (Byars) played like they had to in order for us to beat a team like Florida. We caught them on an afternoon where they missed shots they'd normally make. We were fortunate in some respects for that. Ted (Skuchas) played great off the bench and everyone who played had to play as well as they possibly could."
After the game, students in the sold-out crowd poured onto the court to celebrate the program's first win over a top-ranked team since 1993. The crowd played a large role in the Commodores' success.
"There was a lot of miscommunication and that's why they were getting good shots," Florida guard Lee Humphrey said. " You have trouble hearing, but you've got to find ways to communicate despite that."
Vanderbilt led by 13, but Florida cut the deficit to 46-40 with 14 minutes to play. However Foster answered with a three-point play. Later, a dunk by Byars capped the night as it gave Vanderbilt a 76-61 lead with 3:20 to play.
"A lot of people don't ever get the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country," Foster said. "We got the opportunity and seized the moment."
Vanderbilt shot 57.1 percent from the floor and Florida made 44 percent of its shots.
"We caught them on an afternoon where they missed shots they normally make," Stallings said.
Vanderbilt forced the Gators to turn it over a season-high 22 times. But it was what happened after a Vanderbilt turnover that everyone was talking about. Both Stallings and Noah downplayed the incident after the game.
"Noah's a competitor," Stallings said. "So am I."
"It was nothing," Noah said. "I was just trying to get the ball."
|59)||March 8, 2008||MBB: Foster puts on show for the ages on Senior Night|
Recap | Box Score | Foster's Highlights | Green's Photos
In one of if not the greatest individual performance by a Vanderbilt player at Memorial Gym, forward Shan Foster put the team on his shoulders and willed the 16th-ranked Commodores to an 86-85 overtime win on Senior Night against No. 25 Mississippi State on March 5, 2008.
After missing his first six three-pointers, Foster made his final nine-three-point attempts to finish the game with 42 points, tying a school record for the most points at Memorial Gym by a Commodore.
Foster's three-pointers, many of which defied logic, came with multiple hands in his face and were well beyond the three-point line, helped Vanderbilt complete its home schedule with a perfect 19-0 record.
"Shan was just incredible tonight," Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings said. "I can't really put it into words. I saw the guy (Matt Freije) who's scoring record that he broke. One night I think he (Freije) scored all but two of our points in a half and brought us back for a come-from-behind victory (Tennessee, 2004). That was pretty amazing, but not quite as amazing as this. This was just on another level. Lord have mercy, that was amazing. I'm glad I spent all that time teaching him how to shoot."
Foster's heroics were still almost not enough to pull the Commodores through to victory. With 24.3 seconds to play Mississippi State senior guard and Nashville native Jamont Gordon toed the line for two free throws. He made the first, but missed the second, providing just a three-point margin for Mississippi State. With 14.5 seconds to play, Foster made Gordon pay with a three-pointer to tie the game. Gordon would then miss a last-ditch layup attempt to send the game in overtime.
In overtime, Mississippi State led 84-80 with 36.2 seconds to play, but Foster again pulled the Commodores back from the brink of defeat. Foster scored the team's final eight points and his three-pointer with 29.6 seconds to play pulled the Commodores within one, 84-83. Vanderbilt would foul immediately and send Ben Hansbrough to the line. Hansbrough would make the first free throw, but he missed the second. The crack was all Foster would need.
With time running out, Foster made his ninth straight three-pointer to give Vanderbilt the win after Mississippi State's last-second heave from just past halfcourt was no good.
"This is the first game I hit nine 3s," Foster said. "To hit nine in a row, that blows my mind. I mean there's a big difference between hitting nine in shooting practice with Red (Alex Gordon) when we're challenging each other and hitting nine in a row with the other team trying with everything in them to stop you from shooting the ball ... that amazed me. That was crazy."
The win was Vanderbilt's 25th of the season, matching the 1992-93 team for most in regular season history as the Commodores improved to 25-5 overall and 10-5 in the SEC.
"My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open," Foster said. "God took care of the rest. Some of those shots, I was amazed. I was deep on a lot of them," Foster said, shaking his head. "I put it up there, and the Lord took care of the rest. That's the only way I can describe it."
Following the final horn, Foster made his way over to his family in the stands and embraced them as the crowd wildly roared. Foster then embraced Coach Stallings (pictured).
"After the game, I went over and hugged my mom and my grandmother and they were all crying and that's when it hit me that this was my last game here. The fans have been unbelievable. From day one they took me in as family, as a part of them and it means so much to me. My coaching staff, my teammates, just being a part of this. This is a true college experience and I have enjoyed every bit of it. That's why you see tears out of my eyes. They're not tears of sadness, they're tears of joy. I've been able to have the greatest college experience that I can imagine." - Foster said.
The 14,316 fans in attendance were treated to something they likely will never see again, and they are the only ones who can say they saw maybe the single greatest individual Commodore performance in school history because the game was not televised anywhere.
"You can't say anything else about it," Mississippi State Head Coach Rick Stansbury said. "He jumped up in a stressful situation and made shots. Absolutely nothing else I would have done different, and absolutely nothing else I could have done. He jumped up and made 30-footers with someone in his face."
A.J. Ogilvy had 16 points and Alex Gordon had 14 points for the Commodores. Gordon finished with 24 points for Mississippi State (20-9, 11-4 SEC), but each of their performances were overshadowed by Foster.
"It took Shan a while to get going but once he did that was about as special a performance as I've ever seen," Stallings said. "I couldn't be happier for him as an individual and I couldn't be happier for a group of guys. We were up against it whatever you want to say all night. We could never get control of it."
|60)||Feb. 19, 2009||WBB: Vanderbilt tops No. 3 Auburn to move into first place in SEC|
Recap | Box Score | Russell's Photos
In a battle for first place in the SEC, No. 18 Vanderbilt defeated No. 3 Auburn, 73-70, on Feb. 19, 2009, to tie the Tigers atop the league standings.
Vanderbilt led by as many as 18 points, but Auburn did not give up. The Tigers' only lead was 3-0, but they were within one, 71-70, with 11.6 seconds to play when Merideth Marsh was fouled. Marsh made two free throws and Auburn's Sherell Hobbs' three-pointer from the right corner was off the mark.
"It was awful tough because they fought back," Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb said. "They're a great team, and we just had a good cushion. We didn't foul. We almost got tentative and didn't get the transition buckets. But down the stretch, everybody made big plays that we needed."
The win on Senior Night helped Vanderbilt finish its home SEC schedule undefeated as the Commodores knocked off its second top 10 team within the last eight days.
"We're starting to figure things out," Vanderbilt senior Christina Wirth said. "This is always when we start playing our best basketball at the end of the season when we should be. It takes a while to figure that out. We've done that. ... Now we're growing up as a team, we're going to go on the road and take care of business."
The loss was just Auburn's second of the season as the Tigers fell to 25-2 overall and 10-2 in the SEC. It snapped a five-game winning streak.
Jence Rhoads led Vanderbilt with a career-high 16 points. Wirth and Jennifer Risper (pictured) each had 14 apiece. Vanderbilt improved to 21-6 overall and 10-2 in the SEC.
Credit: Nashville Banner, Tennessean, Dynamite! 75 Years of Vanderbilt Basketball (Roy M. Neel), DVD: 50 Years of Memorial Magic