Gamecocks fall to Vandy 74-64 in regular season finale
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - South Carolina (14-17, 4-14 SEC) dropped their regular season finale to Vanderbilt (14-16, 8-10 SEC) 74-64 at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon. For the second game in a row, junior guard Brenton Williams led South Carolina offensively, scoring 17 points.
Junior guard Bruce Ellington was the only other Gamecock to reach double figures, scoring 10 on the afternoon. Freshman forward Laimonas Chatkevicius contributed nine points. Freshman forward Michael Carrera registered a game-high 13 rebounds in the contest. South Carolina out-rebounded Vanderbilt 39-32 and held a 17-8 upperhand on the offensive glass.
Three Commodores reached double digits in the game. Junior forward Rod Odom and sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker scored a game-high 18 points apiece with sophomore guard Kedren Johnson adding 12 in the matchup. Odom collected a team-high 8 boards for Vanderbilt.
The Gamecocks shot 35.9 percent from the floor, hitting 23-of-64 of their attempts while the Commodores hit 22-of-48 of their shots for a 45.8 percent performance. Vanderbilt notched 23 points from the free throw line on 28 attempts in comparison to South Carolina's 11-of-13 from the charity stripe.
The score stood at 6-4 Vanderbilt at the opening media timeout and the teams traded baskets out of the break before a 3 from Vandy's Parker put the score at 13-8 Commodores with 11:57 to go in the opening half.
Junior guard Brian Richardson connected for a tip-in at the 10:50 mark, and Carrera was a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe over the course of the next two minutes. Parker hit his second 3 of the half for Vandy during the stretch, and the score stood at 16-14 Commodores with 7:34 to play.
Junior forward RJ Slawson provided a lay-up and Chatkevicius connected for two from the free throw line with 4:33 to play before half, but Vandy's Odom connected from long range on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 10 at 28-18, forcing a Carolina timeout with 3:29 to play.
Ellington continued solid shooting from the free throw line for the Gamecocks with two makes with 3:11 showing on the clock to pull Carolina within eight, but Odom added two jumpers and a pair of free throws around a 3 from Ellington to put the score at 34-23 Commodores with just over a minute to play.
A last-second lay-in from Vandy's junior guard Kyle Fuller put the score at 36-25 at the half. The Gamecocks shot just 26.7 percent (8-30) from the floor in the first half, compared to a solid 53.8 percent (14-26) from the Commodores. Carolina's 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line offset a 1-of-7 mark from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes. Ellington posted five points in the half to lead the Gamecocks, Vandy's Odom provided 16 to pace the team.
Chatkevicius hit a turnaround jumper on an assist from freshman forward Brian Steele with 16:53 remaining to pull the Gamecocks within 10 at 37-27.
Williams scored eight straight points through the middle part of the second half to put the score at 41-37 Vandy with 13 minutes to play. VU's Johnson would add two from the free throw line, and Steele would hit a 3 for Carolina, countered by a 3 from Vanderbilt freshman forward Sheldon Jeter for a 46-40 Commodore lead at the 11:57 mark.
Chatkevicius provided five-straight points for the Gamecocks near the eight-minute mark, capped with a 3 with 8:06 on the clock to pull Carolina within four at 52-48.
The Gamecocks pulled within two at 56-54 with 3:45 to play on solid shooting around the basket. A jumper from Williams and Ellington, and a lay-up from senior forward Lakeem Jackson and a called foul capped the 6-2 run at the 3:45 mark.
A jumper from Vandy's redshirt sophomore center Josh Henderson and made 3 from Parker pushed the Vandy lead to 61-54 with 2:15 to play, forcing a Gamecocks timeout.
Ellington connected for a 3 out of the break for a 61-57 score, but Commodore freshman guard Kevin Bright countered with a 3 at the opposite end.
Smith added a lay-up at the one-minute mark and Williams sank a 3 with 35.6 seconds to go for a 66-62 Vandy upperhand, but the Commodores connected from the free throw line in the final seconds to close the 74-64 win.
South Carolina will play the winner of the Mississippi State versus Auburn contest in the opening round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville on Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET, as either the No. 12 or 13 seed depending on the outcome of that contest.