NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Riley LaChance almost stopped Vanderbilt’s three-game losing streak by himself.
The 6-foot-2 guard from Brookfield, Wisconsin, scored a career-high 27 points in a 74-62 win over Radford on Tuesday night.
“Riley was sensational,” Commodores coach Bryce Drew said. “We talked about imposing your will on the game and he was the smallest one out there and yet his will was the biggest and he made play after play to carry us throughout the game.”
LaChance, whose father, Tom, is an AAU coach in Wisconsin, hit all 10 of his foul shots and went 3-for-5 from 3-point range. The senior also scored on four layups.
“I thought we needed a little boost of energy, so I tried taking the ball to the basket a little bit and that worked,” LaChance said. “I just was able to attack some close-outs and get to the line.”
LaChance did a good job of not settling for 3’s and he sped by Radford defenders when they closed out hard.
“Our rotations were really bad,” Highlanders coach Mike Jones said. “We never got over there and stopped him and made him make another play, so he was able to get an angle and get his body on somebody. He’s hard to find in transition sometimes. I’m sure he’d love to play Radford again.”
Vanderbilt (3-4) rebounded after suffering consecutive losses to Seton Hall, No. 18 Virginia and No. 14 Southern California. Seton Hall is the first team behind No. 25 Creighton in the rankings.
“Confidence is a very sensitive thing,” Drew said. “Sometimes you can bury yourself in your confidence because you’re just playing really good teams.”
Vanderbilt’s Jeff Roberson fouled out with 7:02 left with 14 points. Roberson, who entered the game with a Southeastern Conference-leading four double-doubles, narrowly missed another one with nine rebounds.
Ed Polite Jr. led Radford (3-3) with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Devonnte Holland fouled out with 11 points.
Radford led for most of the first half as Vanderbilt missed its first eight shots from the field against the Highlanders’ man-to-man defense.
Two consecutive three-point plays by LaChance gave the Commodores their first lead at 32-31 with 1:51 left in the first half.
LaChance’s 3-pointer gave Vanderbilt a 36-33 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the half and they took the three-point advantage into the break.
Radford, which returns all five starters from last year’s 14-18 team, outscored Vanderbilt 32-16 in bench points.
Radford: The Highlanders dominated the first half, before Vanderbilt rallied in the second half.
Vanderbilt: LaChance enjoyed one of the best games of his career, giving the Commodores a much-needed win.
Vanderbilt outscored Radford 23-7 at the foul line, getting to the line 20 more times than the visitors. “Unfortunately, we fouled too much,” Jones said. “We knew coming in they were a really good free-throw shooting team and if you put those guys on the line they’re going to make you pay. That really made a difference.” The Commodores hit 74 percent of their foul shots.
Darius Bolstad’s layup cut the deficit to 58-56 with 5:12 left, but Vanderbilt closed with a 16-6 run to win the game. “We just had to lock in and get stops,” said Vanderbilt guard Payton Willis, who broke his hand three weeks before the opener, but is 90 percent healed. “We had a little drought (late). I was just making sure everybody got back to moving the ball around and making sure we got the best exit pass for the good shot.”
Radford: The Highlanders visit VMI on Saturday. VMI’s Tyler Creammer recorded his first career double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) in last Saturday’s loss to American.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores host Kansas State (5-1) on Sunday. K-State finished third in the Las Vegas Invitational after a loss to Arizona State and a win over George Washington.