VU downs No. 23/24 Arkansas 65-54

The last time Vanderbilt and Arkansas met, a struggling Razorback team that finished 12-18 overall forced the ‘Dores into overtime at the SEC Tournament before falling 65-64. Tonight, unranked Vandy turned the tables to soundly defeat the No. 23/24 Razorbacks 65-54 in Arkansas' third loss of the year to secure fourth place in the SEC with a 4-2 record.

Vandy also advanced to a perfect 10-0 home record before a sparse crowd diminished by a late afternoon snow storm.

It was the first time this season Vanderbilt (13-6) has upset a ranked opponent after losing to Florida State (66-72) and Tennessee (56-68). Arkansas, with key wins over Utah and Oklahoma, went 12-0 in pre-conference play, but now stands 15-3 after SEC losses to Georgia (56-59) and Florida (53-64) as well.

It helps to have short memories. Head Coach Melanie Balcomb and her coaching staff spent practice time this week reminding the team of what worked with 56.9% shooting at Alabama (82-66 )and not what didn't in the loss to Tennessee last Sunday. Vandy turned in a season-low 33.3% shooting performance against the No. 5 Lady Vols, and hitting just 7 of 37 shots for 18.9% in the first half. Vandy stepped it up to 44% against Arkansas, sinking 22 of 50 shots.

Vanderbilt's first three buckets were three-pointers, and the squad hit nine for the game, including five from freshman phenom Jasmine Lister, who led Vandy scorers with 17. Three others hit double figures, including Christina Foggie with 10 points and a pair of 3-pointers, Stephanie Holzer with 16, and senior guard Jence Rhoads with 13 points and 9 rebounds.

Shortly after the break, Arkansas rallied to tie the score at 30, and Vandy went on a 19-5 run, assisted by sophomore Elan Brown who hustled with a three-pointer, six rebounds and three steals to bust the LadyBacks' zone.

With four blocks, jumpers and five rebounds, 6-4 Stephanie Holzer mixed it up to thwart attempts by Arkansas to get back in the game. "Holzer is intimidating," said Coach Balcomb. "She's tough to shoot over." Arkansas pulled with nine points twice in the final 1:05, but free throws by Jence Rhoads kept adding to the buffer.

Arkansas guard C'eira Ricketts, the only player on both teams to play all 40 minutes, led all scorers with 29 points, well above her 12.8 point average. Sophomore center and Germantown, Tenn., native Sarah Watkins, recruited by Vanderbilt and the team's second-leading scorer, was held to nine points.

Another ranked opponent looms Sunday when Vanderbilt meets No. 19 Kentucky at 3 p.m. Central Time in Lexington's historic Memorial Coliseum. Florida missed playing spoiler at home after the Wildcats rallied to edge the Gators 59-58 tonight.

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