VU's Rhoads sinks 21 to thrash WKU 74-48

Vanderbilt improves to 8-3 after wearing out Western Kentucky 74-48 with good defense and hot shooting from Jence Rhoads, who sank 21 points for a season high. The Lady Toppers, who fall to 4-7, had won four of their last five outings after starting 0-5 against Louisiana Tech, Northwestern, Duke and Michigan State.

Jence, with 5 rebounds and 3 steals, powered through the lanes and showed no signs of a hamstring injury suffered in an exhibition against Union. She was joined in double figures by Christina Foggie, perfect from the free throw line in 11 attempts for a 15-point total, Hannah Tuomi with 13 points and Jasmine Lister with 12 and two 3-pointers. Vanderbilt shot a season-best 85.7% from free throw range and 40% for the game.

Vandy is on a four-game streak after back-to-back losses at Bowling Green and Denver. The 26-point margin of victory was the second largest this season following the 111-53 win over Quinnipiac. The ‘Dores held Western Kentucky to a season-low in points and a season-low one three-pointer. LaTeira Owens (20) and Arnika Brown (15) contributed 35 of the WKU's 48 points.

Jence, asked if the solid win was a sign of the team working as one, said "I think so. We are headed in the right direction and we finally look like Vanderbilt basketball. We are starting to click on offense and our defense is starting to work better. We have a long way to go obviously, but I think we are moving in the right direction."

Western Kentucky led by seven points in the first half as Vandy got off to a slow start. Stephanie Holzer sank a layup with 6:47 remaining to put the ‘Dores ahead 17-16. Vandy scrambled to lead by six at the half, 28-22. But it was all Vanderbilt in the second half with zone defense and a 13-4 run to open the final 20 minutes.

Head Coach Melanie Balcomb attributed the turnaround to more aggressive play and dogged defense by Jence and Jasmine. "They (WKU) didn't have their legs so they were missing shots because they were tired. In the first half we only had one foul on them going into the last minute and we talked about that. They were the aggressive team and the aggressive team always wins. In the second half we had the double bonus and we shot 24-for-28 from the free throw line. That's making an adjustment and being the aggressor."

WKU provided a good preview of SEC style, Balcomb added. "They had the athleticism, the defense, the pressure that we face in the SEC and we had not played a team like this. We've been playing a lot of small teams, three-point shooting teams, packing in, playing personnel and a lot of zone. They came out and it took us a while to adjust to it. We did not do well on offense because we hadn't seen that in a long time."

Vanderbilt begins a holiday break before meeting Delaware on December 29 in the Hilton Garden Classic in Blacksburg, Va. Others in the tournament are Virginia Tech and Alcorn State.



Elan Brown gets tied up grabbing a loose ball.



Jence Rhoads hits a layup enroute to 21 points.



Coach Melanie Balcomb gives pointers to Christina Foggie.



Jordan Coleman and Hannah Tuomi trap a Lady Topper.



Jasmine Lister looks for an open teammate.


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