Commodores Beat Buccaneers 86-75 12/4/02

The Commodores beat the Buccaneers 86-75 on a wintry Wednesday night at Memorial Gym. The 'Dores had four players score in double digits and were powered by sophomore Brian Thornton's 18 points and 8 rebounds. Vanderbilt improves to 4-1, while East Tennessee State drops to 1-3.

The Commodores opened the game with a concerted effort to work the ball inside where Vanderbilt had a significant advantage. Thornton cashed in as he was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line for 14 points in the half. Thornton was the beneficiary of several no-look interior passes that found him right at the basket. Saddled with foul trouble, Thornton only added four points in the second half to finish with 18 on the night.

After falling behind 18-11, the Buccaneers went on a 10-0 run behind the deadly shooting of senior guard Ryan Lawson. Lawson, averaging only 8.7 points per game, lit the Commodores up from behind the arc with four three-point buckets and 16 points in the first half alone. The 'Dores were able to put the clamps on Lawson in the second half, as he only added two more points.

The 'Dores went into the break leading 48-38. After being ice cold from three-point range early by missing its first five, Vanderbilt heated up and nailed three of its next four. The Commodores finished the half shooting 56% from the field.

After trailing 51-38, the Buccaneers ran off nine straight points to cut the Commodores lead to 51-47. The four-point deficit would be as close as ETSU would get the rest of the night.

With Vanderbilt leading 65-58 with less than seven minutes left in the game, senior Matt Freije and sophomore Jason Holwerda went on a tear and put the game out of reach. First, Holwerda lobbed a pass to Freije for a thundering dunk. On the next possession, sophomore Corey Smith provided the alley to the Freije oop. Holwerda then stole the show as he nailed two straight three pointers to set a new career high with three on the night and push the Commodore lead to 15. Holwerda finished the game with 9 points and 4 assists while Freije pumped in 18 points on the night.

"We did not have one player play up to his potential tonight, but I'll take 11 point wins on bad games for the rest of the season," head coach Kevin Stallings said.

The Commodores return home Saturday night to face the Green Wave from Tulane. The game will be televised at 7 p.m. CT on Comcast Sports South.

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