Foster's 42 carries Vanderbilt in overtime

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 at 10:25pm

The most prolific scorer in Vanderbilt basketball history saved his best for his final home appearance.

Turning in a magnificent, career-high 42-point performance that awed a crowd of 14,316, Commodore senior Shan Foster led No. 16 VU to an 86-85 overtime victory over Mississippi State on Senior Night at Memorial Gym.

His 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining was the decisive blow and capped one of the top individual performances in school history.

Foster’s 42 points tied for the second-most in Vanderbilt history. No VU player had scored more than 40 points in a game since 1969.

Emotional Commodores coach Kevin Stallings struggled to put Foster’s outing into perspective.

“This was just another level,” Stallings said. “Lord have mercy. That was amazing.”

Foster, who recently became VU’s all-time leading scorer, was also stunned his performance.

“I wouldn’t have imagined it in a million years,” he said. “That performance out there tonight, it wasn’t me. It was just God using my body as an instrument to say to people in the stands, ‘If you seek ye first the kingdom of God, all things will be given unto you.’”

Foster missed his first six 3-point attempts, but then swished nine straight to close the game. They came from every angle and every distance, including two that approached 30 feet.

He made two treys in the final 26.1 seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime, then drilled two more in the final 29.6 seconds of overtime.

The Bulldogs could do nothing to stop it.

“It’s simple. Foster beat us,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “You can’t say anything else about it. He jumped up in stressful situations and made shots. Absolutely nothing else I would have done different, and absolutely nothing else I could have done. He jumped up and made 30 footers with someone in his face.”

The victory capped a 19-0 season at home for the Commodores, their first undefeated year at Memorial Gym since 1992-93. They improved to 25-5 overall and 10-5 in SEC play, remaining one game behind Kentucky for second place in the Eastern Division.

Nashville native Jamont Gordon led Mississippi State [20-9, 11-4] with 24 points.

With Foster struggling early, Vanderbilt made only four of its first 21 shots, allowing the Bulldogs to grab a seven-point first-half lead.

Sticking with a zone defense throughout the night, MSU gambled that the Commodores, and especially Foster, wouldn’t catch fire.

“You’re betting he’ll miss the whole night,” Stallings. “He’s better than that.”

Mississippi State crafted an eight-point lead in the second half before Foster began firing away. The game remained close to the end, and Gordon had a chance to nail down an MSU win but missed the second of two free throws, making it 74-71 with 24.3 seconds left.

Foster then dropped in a high-arching trey, sending the game into overtime as Gordon missed a jumper at the buzzer.

In overtime, as the final seconds ticked away, Foster stroked his game-winning shot despite being draped by Bulldog defense.

“I really can’t put the words on his performance,” Vanderbilt guard Alex Gordon said of Foster. “I’ve never somebody shoot so deep and be poised at the same time. He was just a warrior tonight. That performance was just perfection.”

It was a performance that won’t soon be forgotten at Vanderbilt.

“That was about as spectacular as I’ve ever seen,” Stallings said.

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