Vanderbilt edges South Carolina on Beal's shotFeb 10, 2008 - 1:38 AM COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Jermaine Beal had just one field goal in the game. It turned out to be the biggest one.
Beal drove the length of the court and hit a short jumper with sixth-tenths of a second to play, lifting No. 20 Vanderbilt to a thrilling 66-65 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in a Southeastern Conference matchup.
Shan Foster scored 21 points, including a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left, to lead the Commodores (20-4, 5-4 SEC East) to their third straight victory overall and fifth consecutive over the Gamecocks (11-11, 3-5).
"Sometimes when you lose, in the quietest moments, you ask yourself, 'Why did that happen?' Sometimes there are no answers," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "As you move away from that, you find there is an answer. The answer is that they made one more big play than we did at the right time.
"Their biggest play came at the biggest moment in the game."
South Carolina appeared poised for the victory on a sensational play by sophomore guard Devan Downey with six seconds to play.
Enduring his worst game of the season to that point, Downey sliced in from the right side, drove the lane and hit a reverse, lefthanded scoop shot to give the Gamecocks a 65-64 lead.
"After I made the shot, I knew six seconds was a lot of time," Downey said. "We had bad communication on defense, and we lost as a team. It doesn't matter whose man Beal was; we all lost."
Odom inexplicably decided not to guard the inbound pass, and Beal raced upcourt before hitting a jumper in the lane to win it.
"Six seconds is more than enough," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "Four can get you down the court. We ran a circular route to get it in. Their guards were confused on who they should guard, and Jermaine Beal took it and made the shot. Big time players make big time plays on the road."
The shot culminated a seesaw second half that saw 10 lead changes and four ties.
Freshman center A.J. Ogilvy twice missed the front end of 1-and-1 in the final 30 seconds, giving Downey the opportunity to put the Gamecocks ahead.
A 79.5 percent free-throw shooter for the season, Ogilvy was just 1-of-6 from the stripe but finished with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field.
"Shan and A.J. came out and played their best games in awhile," Stallings said. "I was pleased with their play tonight."
Sophomore forward Evaldas Baniulis scored a season-high 19 points, including 5-of-5 from the arc, to lead South Carolina. Downey, the team's leading scorer at 19.8 entering the contest, finished with 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
"Evaldas had one of his best games offensively," Odom said. "He is a little more of a factor on defense, but he's still not as aware as he needs to be and he gave up some inside baskets. He does cause enough problems for other teams."
Vanderbilt, which won the first meeting between the schools, 80-73, on January 9, led by as many as seven points in the first half before the Gamecocks closed to within 33-32 at halftime.
South Carolina twice led by three points in the second half, only to see Foster tie it both times with 3-pointers.
"We'll continue to get better," Stallings said. "We played with energy and passion. At the end of a six-game road stretch, it gets tough. They gutted it out and that's what we needed."
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
VANDERBILT (20) 33 33 66
SOUTH CAROLINA 32 33 65 FINAL
Feb 9 6:54 PM
- NCAA BB
(20) VANDERBILT 33
SOUTH CAROLINA 32 HALFTIME
Feb 9 5:48 PM
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- Vandy sophomore guard Wade Baldwin IV entering NBA draft Apr 5
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- Stallings gone, Vanderbilt to start search for new coach Mar 27
- Offseason questions loom for Frank Martin, South Carolina Mar 23
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