VU Women Blast Howard, 80-55

NASHVILLE-- Playing without starting point guard Jence Rhoads the Vanderbilt women didn't miss a beat. Stephanie Holzer scored 20 points and Christina Foggie added 14 as the Commodores cruised to an 80-55 season opening victory before 3,504 fans at Memorial Gym.

"We saw it as just another day, another game because we practice every day," said true freshman guard Christina Foggie when asked if her and fellow freshman guard Jasmine Lister felt pressure when they found out senior point guard Jence Rhoads would not be playing. "Coach gives us the ball with the same amount of pressure and same amount of challenges even if we are freshmen," continued Foggie.

Just as they did in the first two exhibition wins, Foggie and Lister continued to play like seasoned veterans for the Commodores. It took less than a minute for Foggie to get her game going. Just 53 seconds into the contest Foggie effortlessly sank a 3-point shot to give her team an early 3-0 lead. Howard took a brief 4-3 lead on a jumper by Saadia Doyle but after that the Bison would never lead again.

Back-to-back 3-point shots by Elan Brown, who started in place of Rhoads, and Foggie put the Commodores ahead 11-4 with 16 minutes to go in the half. The lead bulged to 20-6 on a free throw by Lister with 13:47 to go.

Another freshman entered the game with 10:37 remaining in the half and Vandy leading 25-14. Red shirt freshman Stephanie Holzer could not be stopped by the undersized Bison. The 6-foot-4 Holzer scored her first points on two free throws with 9:27 to go before the break and then proceeded to score the games' next 11 points giving the black and gold a 36-14 lead with just over five minutes remaining. The home team headed to the locker room with a comfortable 49-22 lead.

The Commodores, who shot 64 percent from the field in the first half, saw their shooting deteriorate in the second half to just 25 percent. Meanwhile the Bison, led by Doyle who finished with a double-double after scoring 30 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, improved their shooting from the field from 29 percent to 40 percent.

Tamoria Holmes' 3-pointer cut Vanderbilt's lead to 56-37 with 12:37 to play in the game and made the faithful fans at Memorial restless. However, Vanderbilt's Hannah Tuomi was fouled while making a layup and completed a 3-point play to put Vanderbilt back up by 22. The Bison, who actually outscored the Commodores by two points in the second half, would never pull within 20 of Vandy again.

Even though Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb substituted liberally late the second half the VU women were able to build their lead back to 30 at 74-44 with just over 5 minutes to play before cruising to the 25-point win.

Balcomb wasn't surprised that her team's shooting dropped off in the second half.

"I knew at halftime we were 8 for 11 [from 3] and shot 64 percent from the field that to continue to do that we'd have a national record and I knew that wasn't going to happen this early in the season with a young team," said Balcomb. "I knew it would balance out somewhere so at halftime I tried not to speak about offense and jinx it but that obviously didn't work."

Other scorers for Vanderbilt included Lister 13, Angela Puleo 11, Hannah Tuomi 9.

Next up for Vanderbilt (1-0) is Samford at Memorial Gym on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT.

NOTE: After the game Balcomb said that Jence Rhoads' status is "day-to-day".

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