Yarou, Villanova Defeat Vanderbilt 62-52
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —Villanova didn’t lend itself many second-chance opportunities.
So the Wildcats made sure Vanderbilt wouldn’t get any extra looks either.
Villanova dominated the boards, holding Vanderbilt to just four offensive rebounds — and zero in the second half — for a 62-52 victory on Saturday.
Mouphtaou Yarou led all scorers with 16 points to help the Wildcats (4-3) snap a three-game losing streak and pick up their first true road win.
“We make a living on the glass,” JayVaughn Pinkston said. “We just wanted to crash the boards.”
Pinkston came off the bench for the second straight game to score 13 points and tie a season-high with eight rebounds. Villanova’s aggressiveness paid dividends despite just eight offensive rebounds and six second-chance points.
Vanderbilt (2-4) failed to make shots down the stretch and suffered its fourth loss in five games. The Commodores are off to their worst start since the 1988-89 season and scored less than 60 points for the third time this season. They made just 37 percent (17 of 46) in their first home game in three weeks.
“The bigger issue is how do we shoot 37 percent and only get four (rebounds)?” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “That is the bigger problem is us not getting any. We’re missing a bunch of shots. We should go chase some down. If we hold people to 41 percent (shooting) and they only get eight offensive rebounds normally I would feel good about our chances.”
The Commodores looked sharp at the start, scoring eight straight points to grab an 8-3 lead. Shelby Moats converted a layup with 12:52 left in the half for a 14-9 advantage. But Vanderbilt suddenly cooled off and went scoreless for nearly five minutes — the first of two such droughts. Daniel Ochefu’s two free throws with 3:21 left pushed the Wildcats in front for good and sparked an 8-3 run to close the half.
After missing his first four 3-pointers, Ryan Arcidiacono sunk a 25-footer for a 31-26 lead at halftime.
A floater in the lane by Achraf Yacoubou pushed the lead to eight near the halfway point of the second half. But the Commodores weren’t through. Sheldon Jeter and Kedren Johnson sandwiched back-to-back 3-pointers around a 10-second violation by Villanova and pulled within 39-37.
Vanderbilt chucked up 26 3-pointers, making just nine, but the perimeter shooting allowed the Commodores to stick around. A 3-pointer by Johnson, followed by two free throws from Moats cut the deficit to 46-44 with more than seven minutes remaining.
Darrun Hilliard responded with a slashing layup. Yarou then stole the ball away from Johnson and scored on the other end to push the lead to six.
“There were a lot of good moments in that game where we, on the road, could have given it back,” Villanovacoach Jay Wright said. “Their crowd starting getting into it and we made some big plays. That is what I was really pleased with. When you play a team like this on the road, they are not going to beat themselves. You are going to have to do it. They are not going to go away. That is why it is a very good win.”
Villanova clamped down on defense, and Vanderbilt made just one basket in the closing five minutes.
“We were just trying to not let Johnson go off and try to rebound the ball,” Yarou said. “We wanted to contest the ball and not let them get to the rim.”
Yarou, a 6-foot-10 senior, had made just 68 percent of his free throws before Saturday. But he stepped up the challenge against Vanderbilt, making 10 of 12, including eight in the second half.
The Wildcats were 18 of 25 from the free-throw line. They sealed the win by making all eight attempts in the last 1:23. Vanderbilt attempted just 14 free throws, making nine.
“We’ve got to get the ball closer to the goal. We’ve got to get fouled more,” Stallings said. “The big difference in the game is. they shoot 25 free throws and (we) shoot 14. And the margin probably wasn’t that great because we had to foul some at the end. The officials were great. The officials probably officiated better than either team played.”
Rod Odom led Vanderbilt with 14 points. Johnson, the team’s leading scorer, had 12 points. Freshman Kevin Bright also scored 12 points and picked up his first career double-double with a career-high 12 rebounds.
The Commodores’ backcourt remains a little short-handed without guards A.J. Astroth (hamstring) and Dai-Jon Parker (suspension).