VU's poor first half deals 56-68 loss to UT

The nearly 18,000 fans at Thompson-Boling have dispersed, the television crews from ESPN and local stations on to their next gig and the Lady Vols remain atop of the SEC with a high profile 68-56 win over a struggling Vanderbilt (12-6, 3-2). But there were positive signs that the competitive ‘Dores remain a force to be dealt with as UT Coach Pat Summit noted, "they did not quit."

Although there were no surprises in this joust, No. 5/6 Tennessee (17-2, 5-0) had to dig deeper to finish the fight that seemed to have eluded the ‘Dores in a dismal first half. Although tying the game at 5-all with 14:31 in the opening half, UT would go on a 16-0 run before jumpers by Hannah Tuomi, Gabby Smith and Jence Rhoads would get Vandy within 10 at 11-21. Shot selection, one of the keys to Vandy's three SEC wins, was poor and rushed, overly anxious shooting combined for 18.9% from the field in the first 20 minutes.

After the break, a more relaxed and self-assured Vanderbilt hit 48.6% and outscored the taller Lady Vols 22-16 in the paint. The improvement did not help in the final stats however, as a season-low 33.3% combined with a season-low 56 points resulting from the poor first half. Posts Stephanie Holzer (8 points, 5 rebounds) and Hannah (6 points, 6 rebounds) were double-teamed, leaving freshmen Jasmine Lister and Christina Foggie open for three buckets each beyond the arc. Jasmine, along with Tennessee frosh standout Meighan Simmons, tied at 17 to lead all scorers.

Christina, with 22 minutes, 13 points and 3 steals and 3 rebounds, returned to the confident play delivered before suffering an on-court concussion Dec. 1.

Jence Rhoads became the 33rd member of Vandy's 1,000 point club with 10 points. The senior leader parted defenders and hit fade-away jumpers at key times to prevent a rout. Vandy pulled within nine twice on the ball handler's jump shots in the final 4:10 minutes. A 3-pointer by Jasmine cut the lead to eight with 1:04 left, but no closer as fouls and free throws added up to the final 12-point margin.

Vandy kept the ball in play with just nine turnovers to Tennessee's 15 and 13 assists to UT's eight. The teams will battle again on Sunday, February 13 in Nashville.

Next up is No. 23 Arkansas (14-2, 2-2), which upset Oklahoma State and Kentucky but lost to Georgia 59-56 on January 13. The Thursday night game at 7 p.m. will be in Memorial Gym where Vandy is 9-0 this season.

Christina Foggie races down court.

Jasmine Lister hits a layup.

Jordan Coleman tries to protect a rebound.

Stephanie Holzer battles for position.

Angela Puelo encourages teammates in the huddle.

UT's Kelley Cain pressures a Hannah Tuomi layup.

Jence Rhoads powers to the basket.

Bench players welcome Jordan Coleman after play. Top Stories