TAMPA, Fla. – Maybe it wasn’t such an upset, after all.
No. 4 seed Vanderbilt barely put up a fight in losing 83-62 to No. 13 seed Siena on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Saying “we got our butts whipped,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings expressed disappointment in his team’s performance while also handing out praise to the underog Saints.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I thought Siena was terrific,” he said.
It was Vanderbilt's second-worst loss ever in the NCAA Tournament.
Leaky defense was VU's undoing. Siena shot 56.6 percent from the field, made of 11 of its first 17 shots and never trailed in becoming only the 17th No. 13 seed in tournament history to topple a No. 4.
“Defense was obviously the problem,” VU guard Jermaine Beal said. “Our defense let us down tonight.”
A.J. Ogilvly led Vanderbilt [26-8] with 18 points. Commodore star Shan Foster scored only 13, seven below his average, and had only two points in the second half.
Kenny Hasbrouck led Siena [23-10] with 30 points.
The Saints dismissed the notion that Friday’s game was a surprise.
“I really didn’t consider it an upset,” Siena guard Tay Fisher said. “I know we can hang with anybody in the country. When people say Cinderella, that really doesn’t come into my mind.”
Finding itself in a 16-point hole midway through the first half, Vanderbilt tried in vain to chip away in the second half.
Five straight points from reserve guard Keegan Bell cut the lead to 53-43, but Fisher answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to keep Siena in front 61-47 with 10:54 left.
A dunk by Siena’s Alex Franklin made it 67-51 with 7:00 remaining and all but finished the Commodores. VU’s Darshawn McClellan hit two free throws with 3:00 to go to make it 69-60, but the Saints again pulled away.
“We started the game and jumped on them a little bit, and that helped us,” Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. “We answered every run that they made.”
Vanderbilt players this week had voiced disappointment over being picked by many national analysts to lose Friday's game.
"Going into it, I thought we were better than them, but it's not who's better. It's who plays the best," Stallings said. "Siena played the best. Certainly the team that deserved to win won the game."