“Give Vanderbilt credit,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “They played very well with a lot of energy on their end. I was disappointed with our inability to keep the ball in front of us and to keep them from getting shots at the rim.
“I thought we fought. I am proud of the kids for playing hard. I didn’t think we quit for one second. Vanderbilt has made 15 straight NCAAs, should be 16 this year. We put them at the line 42 times and you just can’t do that and win.”
Vanderbilt scored the game’s first six points and never trailed. The Commodores used the early offensive momentum to build a 16-3 lead with 11:49 left in the first half.
From, there the Maroon and White begin to fight back.
Victoria Vivians completed an old-fashioned 3-point play to bring the Bulldogs back within 18-11 with 9:28 left in the half. Another 3-pointer by Vivians a couple of possessions later cut the VU lead to 19-16.
A 7-0 run by Vanderbilt reestablished a 28-18 lead for the home team.
In the opening half, the Commodores shot 68.4 percent from the floor and led 34-24 at the intermission.
The Bulldogs continued to battle in the second half but could not string together enough stops to garner a lead.
A 3-pointer by Kendra Grant brought MSU within 49-42 with 9:46 left. The Commodores extended the lead back to double figures before the Bulldogs whittled it one last time to six points at 64-58 on a layup by Brenna Richardson with 4:03 left.
The Commodores then rode the free throw line to close out their seventh win the last eight series meetings from the Bulldogs.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 21 of 64 shots from the field (32.8 percent), 3 of 13 shots from 3-point range (23.1 percent) and 17 of 28 shots from the foul line (60.7 percent). The Commodores hit 22 of 35 shots from the field (62.9 percent), 1 of 3 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 33 of 42 shots from the foul line (78.6 percent).
Vanderbilt held a 37-31 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 15 turnovers, while the Commodores had 18 assists and 24 turnovers.
Richardson led the Bulldogs with 16 points and 11 rebounds for her second double-double this season and sixth overall. It was Richardson’s third time to lead the team in scoring this season. Vivians added 12 points, while Martha Alwal had 10 points.
Vanderbilt received 18 points from Morgan Batey, 17 points from Rebekah Dahlman, 17 points from Heather Bowe and 12 points from Rachel Bell.
The Bulldogs return home for a pair of games in the Humphrey Coliseum. MSU will host LSU at 7 p.m. Thursday (SEC Network +) and Alabama at 3 p.m. Sunday (Fox Sports Net South).