Ezra Manjon scored 16 points and added three steals, leading Vanderbilt to a 75-71 win over Central Arkansas in Nashville on Friday evening.
Colin Smith had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Evan Taylor scored 14 and Isaiah West added 12 for the Commodores (3-1), who won their third straight.
The Bears’ leading scorer, Elias Cato, had just five points. Central Arkansas’ Daniel Sofield, Javion Guy-King and Masai Olowokere each had 11, while Ubongabasi Etim added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Commodores, 18.5-point favorites, never trailed.
Cato hit 1 of 2 free throws with 30.1 seconds left to pull Central Arkansas (1-3) within one.
Vanderbilt’s Smith snatched the rebound of the second foul shot. The Bears fouled Manjon, who sank both free throws with 24.5 seconds left.
Olowokere answered with a layup with 13.6 seconds left.
Manjon hit two more foul shots with 11.7 seconds remaining to make it 74-71.
The Bears’ Ibbe Klintman got a great look at a tying 3-point attempt from the right side but missed, and Taylor’s free throw with one second to play sealed things.
Vanderbilt played without Manjon for about a six-minute stretch of the period with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
In that stretch, Central Arkansas cut a seven-point lead to three.
Upon Manjon’s return, the Commodores — using West to run the point — went to Manjon right away. He converted a short jumper in the paint with 9:14 left to make Vanderbilt’s lead 59-54.
Central Arkansas shot 53.6 percent in the first half but trailed 41-33 as Vanderbilt turned the ball over just three times.
Smith’s transition layup with 11:45 left in the first half gave him 13 points and increased Vanderbilt’s lead to 24-11.
The Commodores extended the lead to 16 on Jason Rivera-Torres’s fastbreak layup with 8:27 left before half.
Both teams were again down key pieces.
Vanderbilt played without preseason second-team All-Southeastern Conference guard Tyrin Lawrence as well as forward Ven-Allen Lubin and Lee Dort, all expected to be key rotation pieces.
Central Arkansas didn’t have Camren Hunter, who averaged 16.9 points last season.
–Field Level Media
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