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Commodores Fall to No. 12 UConn, 76-70 12/1/02

Emeka Okafor was too much for the Commodores Sunday night as he poured in 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead Connecticut past the 'Dores 76-70 Sunday night in Memorial Gym. The Commodores drop to 3-1 on the year as the Huskies improve to 3-0.

Both teams opened the game aggressive on the defensive end. The 'Dores got a steal on the very first possession from sophomore guard Jason Holwerda, but the Huskies flexed their muscle by keeping the Commodores from scoring a field goal until 3:27 into the game.

Although the Commodores never led in the half, they tied the game at 26 with a couple of electrifying plays. The first came from Holwerda tossing an alley-oop to Freije who laid it in. Then sophomore Corey Smith launched a three-pointer from the baseline that rimmed out, but Freije was there to tip it in and bring the crowd of 12, 490 to their feet.

"It got awfully loud" according to head coach Kevin Stallings when asked what he thought of Memorial Magic Night. The Vanderbilt athletic department recognized former Commodores Barry Booker, Barry Goheen, and Ronnie McMahan in addition to giving two free tickets to every season ticket holder. These efforts were put in place to "pack the house" which was very effective as the near sellout crowd saw a thrilling game.

The Commodores entered halftime trailing 38-31.

Okafor, who dominated the game with 25 points and 11 rebounds, came out of the half and tried to put the game away early with eight straight points to push the UConn lead to 46-37.

But the resilient Commodores would not go away as they mounted a 9-1 run that included a three-pointer from Freije. The run was capped off by a Przybyszewski hook in the lane over Okafor to narrow the margin to one at 51-50. Freije finished the game with 18 points and 9 rebounds.

Vanderbilt's first and only lead of the game came at 54-53 when freshman Mario Moore stole the ball, tipped it to himself, and raced down the court for a lay-up.

But, just as the Commodores gained the momentum, the Huskies ripped it back by reeling off six straight points to regain the lead at 59-54 with 7:49 remaining.

The Commodores would only threaten one more time in the half as Vanderbilt falls 76-70 in an exhilarating game.

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