NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Riley LaChance’s game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left sent Mississippi State to another heart-breaking defeat on the road.
MSU erased an 11-point second-half deficit but could not protect a late lead, falling to Vanderbilt 81-80 at Memorial Gymnasium. Xavian Stapleton hit one of two free throws with seven seconds remaining, before LaChance hit his game-winner as the final second ticked off the clock.
“We had incredible fight,” MSU coach Ben Howland said. “We shot 66 percent from the field in the second half. We did a great job of attacking their zone in the second half. It comes down to the defense. They had 13 offensive rebounds to our six. We had too many mistakes on the defensive side. We played incredibly hard. I love this team. We always fight to the end.”
MSU dropped its second straight road game in the final seconds to fall to 18-8 overall and 6-7 in league play. Vanderbilt improved to 10-16 and 4-9. The teams split the season series, with MSU winning 80-62 last month in Starkville.
Stapleton helped engineer the comeback with five-straight 3-pointers. The Bulldogs had a stretch of eight-straight made baskets. MSU hit eight of its 12 3-pointers in the second half.
Stapleton led the Bulldogs with 18 points. Abdul Ado followed with 15 points, while Tyson Carter had 12 points, Aric Holman had 11 points and Nick Weatherspoon had 10 points. Ado led the Bulldogs with seven rebounds, while Lamar Peters had eight assists.
The Bulldogs built an early 14-7 lead with an 8-0 run. A 3-point play by Holman ran the Bulldogs’ lead to the largest in the game, at 22-14 with 9:49 left in the first half.
Vanderbilt then took a lead with a 13-0 run. After the Bulldogs closed within one at 32-31, the Commodores scored the final eight points of the half to take a 40-31 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Commodores stretched the lead to 10 in the first minute. The lead would then grow to 11 three times, with the last being at 60-49 with 9:55.
MSU erased a 12-point second-half deficit before falling in overtime at Missouri Saturday. This time, the team rallied again behind a brilliant sequence on the offensive end.
A dunk by Ado brought the Bulldogs within 69-66 with 5:31 left. A 3-pointer by Stapleton gave the Maroon and White a 72-71 lead with 3:53 left.
The lead switched hands a couple of times before Ado gave the Bulldogs a three-point lead at 79-76 on a dunk with 18 seconds left.
For the contest, MSU hit 31 of 53 shots from the field (58.5 percent), 10 of 17 shots from 3-point range (58.8 percent) and 8 of 11 shots from the foul line (72.7 percent). Vanderbilt hit 28 of 56 shots from the field (50.0 percent), 14 of 27 shots from 3-point range (51.9 percent) and 11 of 17 shots from the foul line (64.7 percent).
Vanderbilt held a 31-23 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 18 assists and 10 turnovers, while the Commodores had 16 assists and 10 turnovers.
Vanderbilt received 22 points from Jeff Roberson, 16 points from LaChance, 16 points from Joe Toye and 15 points from Payton Willis. Roberson also had a game-high 11 rebounds.
MSU will host Ole Miss at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The SEC Network will have the broadcast live from Humphrey Coliseum.