for this game

Byars carries Vanderbilt past Washington St. in double OT

Mar 18, 2007 - 4:05 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Derrick Byars and Shan Foster were not ready to gave up on their surprise season.

Byars scored 27 points and Foster chipped in 20 and three steals as sixth-seeded Vanderbilt held on for a 78-74 double-overtime victory over No. 3 Washington State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's East Region.

The duo combined to make 17-of-37 shots, including 6-of-15 from 3-point range, as the Commodores (22-11) reached the regional semifinals for the second time in four years.

"I can't describe it," Byars said. "It was probably the best game I've ever played in. It was a collective effort. Guys just dug down deep when we were trailing for most of the game and we got it back where we wanted it. I couldn't be more happy right now."

Vanderbilt will face off against second-seeded Georgetown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Friday.

In the second overtime, Ted Skuchas scored on a layup and Foster added a dunk after stealing the ball from Kyle Weaver with 2:35 to go for a 75-71 advantage.

Alex Gordon split a pair of free throws, giving Vanderbilt a five-point lead. But Washington State's Daven Harmeling drained a 3-pointer to make it 76-74 with 37 seconds remaining.

The Cougars (26-8) had one last chance to tie or win it after Gordon missed two other foul shots, but Taylor Rochestie misfired from the arc and Foster added an easy layup on the break to seal the game.

"That's one of the best basketball games I've ever been involved in," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We didn't fight any harder than they did, we just made a couple more plays. That's the nature of close games like that. We got a couple of key turnovers there in the overtime."

"I think it was a big game for us and mentally maybe we let it slip at the end," Rochestie said. "It was a game that was definitely ours for the taking. We had some opportunities to capitalize on it. The other team did a good job defensively."

In the first extra session, Byars scored five straight points to help Vanderbilt build a 69-66 with 59 seconds remaining. But Derrick Low tied the game with his 3-pointer 19 seconds later.

"I just didn't want to lose," Byars said. "I just tried to make the best decision possible. A lot of credit to Ted and Ross Netler for making good screens on several plays we ran that freed me up to make a play for myself of my teammates."

Washington State had a chance to seal the game in regulation when Ivory Clark's huge block on Byars with 24 seconds left gave them possession with the score tied at 60-60. However, Harmeling misfired from the arc to force overtime.

Low scored 21 points and Aron Baynes and Robbie Cowgill both added 14 for Washington State, which shot 42 percent (27-of-63) and committed 19 turnovers.

First-year coach Tony Bennett has completely turned the Cougars' program around, going from last to a second-place finish in the Pac-10 Conference this season and capturing the school's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1994.

"I'm proud of our guys. I'm hurting right now, feel the sting and a little numb," Bennett said. "Turnaround year is the first thing I wrote on the board in late August and it's the last thing I wrote on the board (Saturday)."

"It was a very big step. We haven't been here in a long time," Low said. "To accomplish something like this is a good feeling. We would have loved to go to the 'Sweet 16' but we're still excited for next year."

It marked as the first double-overtime game in the NCAAs since Michigan State edged Kentucky, 94-88, in the Austin Region final in 2005.