NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—To his coach and teammates, Shan Foster’s final home game was amazing, incredible and crazy.
The senior said even he was amazed.
Vanderbilt’s all-time leading scorer had a career-high 42 points and hit his final nine 3-point attempts, the last with 2.7 seconds left in overtime, to help the 16th-ranked Commodores to an 86-85 victory over Mississippi State on Wednesday night.
“This is the first game I hit nine 3s. To hit nine in a row, that blows my mind,” Foster said. “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 Senior Night victory allowed Vanderbilt (25-5, 10-5) to finish unbeaten at home this season and kept alive its chances at a first-round bye in the Southeastern Conference tournament next week in Atlanta. They also matched the 25 wins by the 1992-93 team for most in the regular season.
The Commodores finished 19-0 in Memorial Gym where they have won 32 of 33 games, and coach Kevin Stallings had tears running down his face after Foster’s stunning performance.
“This was just on another level,” Stallings said. “Lord have mercy that was amazing. It was amazing. I’m glad I spent all that time teaching him how to shoot.”
Jamont Gordon had 24 points for the Bulldogs (20-9, 11-4), who clinched the SEC West title last weekend with a win at Florida. Mississippi State, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, needed a win to have any chance at winning the overall league title.
Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said Foster simply beat them.
“You can’t say anything else about it. 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,” Stansbury said.
“He jumped up in those situations and made shots. It was him. Forty-two points.”
A.J. Ogilvy had 16 points and Alex Gordon added 14 for Vanderbilt, which trailed most of the game and even through most of overtime.
Jamont Gordon had to leave with 29 seconds left in overtime because of cramps.
Charles Rhodes had 22 points for the Bulldogs, while Jarvis Varnardo added 16.
Foster tied for the second-best scoring performance in Vanderbilt history, matching Bo Wyenandt’s 42 points against Alabama on Feb. 20, 1967. His game-winning shot ensured Foster and his fellow seniors leave as the winningest group in school history with 84 victories.
Foster said he really didn’t want to lose his last game in Memorial Gym.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open. 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.”
Alex Gordon, who said he thought about taking the last shot when Foster passed the ball to him, passed it back.
“That performance was just perfection. He did whatever it took for us to win. He came up at the end and hit the big shot. Our Senior Night. Our last game at Memorial. We’re going to go down in history. We were undefeated, and it just feels good,” Gordon said.
It didn’t look like Foster had the touch as he missed his first six 3s.
With 10:43 left in regulation, he finally got going and didn’t miss from outside the arc the rest of the way even with at least one defender on each attempt. Foster’s 3 with 14.5 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 74.
“I asked him what took him so long to get going,” Stallings said. “That was a little bit of a concern for me why he had to miss those six before he hit those nine.”
Gordon, who scored the Bulldogs’ final five points of regulation, missed the second free throw with 24.3 seconds left that could have made it a four-point game. He tried to win the game in the final seconds but missed on a drive to the basket, and a final attempt hit off the rim at the buzzer.
In overtime, Ben Hansbrough hit his first shot of the game with 4:21 to go, putting the Bulldogs ahead 77-74.
The Bulldogs led 84-80 with 36.2 seconds left on another 3 by Hansbrough. But Foster, who scored the final eight points for Vandy, answered with a 3 with 29.6 seconds to go. Gordon had to be carried off the court by two teammates following a delay of a few minutes.
Hansbrough hit the first of two free throws with 29.6 seconds left. Needing a 3 to win, the Commodores ran down the clock and got the ball to Foster who hit his ninth and final 3.
Barry Stewart threw up a desperation shot that came nowhere near the rim at the buzzer.
Mississippi State led by as many as eight points but the Bulldogs couldn’t hold the lead between Foster’s shooting and them going 15-of-28 at the free throw line.