Vanderbilt Shoots Down Lady'Backs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Here's how decisive No. 22 Vanderbilt's 78-43 victory over Arkansas was on Thursday night in Memorial Gym.

The Commodores' mascot made one more 3-point shot than the Lady Razorbacks did.

The mascot banked one in during a first-half timeout. Maybe Arkansas should have tried that and called its banks.

The Lady'Backs (15-9, 3-8 in the Southeastern Conference) shot 0 of 18 from behind the arc and just 17 of 56 overall for 30.4 percent. Not since 1993 against Kentucky had Arkansas failed to make a 3-pointer.

Vanderbilt (18-6, 7-4 SEC) shot a sizzling 64.6 percent on 31 of 48, but that's a bit misleading since the Commodores scored 44 points in the paint, many on layups by Carla Thomas (23 points) or Ashley Earley (15 points).

Vandy actually dictated the game with its active defense, springing some traps early and out-stealing Arkansas 6-5 in the first half.

"That's the most aggressive we've played defensively in a while," said Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb. "We had very active hands and feet, and threw a lot of traps at Arkansas right away."

The result was Vanderbilt took a 13-4 lead in the first nine minutes as Arkansas missed 11 of its first 12 shots. The Lady'Backs' 43 points marked a season low.

Dee Davis, Vanderbilt's sophomore guard who had been battling a foot problem, paced the Commodores on defense.

"Dee is our leader," Balcomb said. "She had been hesitant recently, but tonight she was more active and everyone else followed. After our good start on defense, we could relax on offense and I didn't have to play Dee as much."

Arkansas missed a golden opportunity early as Vanderbilt committed five traveling violations in the first 11 minutes and Thomas did not score in the first 12 minutes-plus.

But the Lady'Backs, after shooting 47.5 and 46.3 percent in their last two wins over Alabama and Georgia Tech, had trouble getting good shots against a well-prepared Vanderbilt team.

"We knew they were going to trap us on the wings and try to cause turnovers," said Arkansas guard Kristin Peoples. "That didn't surprise us. We just couldn't hit our shots."

Thomas had averaged just seven points in her previous two games, but once she got untracked with a basket that put Vandy up 19-10 with 7 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first half, she was off to the races.

Vanderbilt put the game away by halftime, 37-14, and led by 57-25 with just over 10 minutes remaining.

"Vanderbilt's post players posted really hard," Peoples said. "And they had a good sense of what to do when we doubled down on them."

Sarah Pfeifer led Arkansas with 13 points and 4 rebounds, while Danielle Allen fouled out with 11 points.

"We got a lot of the same shots tonight that we had in past games, but they just wouldn't fall," Pfeifer said.

Arkansas coach Susie Gardner said, "We kept fighting hard and playing defense. From a defensive standpoint, we did well. We can force turnovers, but once again we didn't take advantage of those opportunities."

Despite Arkansas' 16 steals, Vanderbilt led 72-33 with about four minutes left. The Commodores couldn't quite double Arkansas' score at the end, but did outrebound the shorter Lady'Backs 41-20.

Guard Abi Ramsey scored 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting for the Commodores, who ranked third nationally in field goal percentage at .501 and third in scoring going into the game.

A crowd of just 2,673 watched the game.

Arkansas returns home to host No. 6 Tennessee on Sunday. The Lady Vols belted South Carolina 74-44 on Thursday night.

Vanderbilt goes to Florida to oppose Gators coach Carolyn Peck, a former Vandy player.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories