Vandy drops Ole Miss 71-42 after earlier loss

What a difference a month can make, and a bye week and playing with confidence on a home court bulging with the largest crowd of the season. Vanderbilt (14-7, 5-3) took Ole Miss (9-11, 2-6) to task on Sunday, defending, rebounding and offensively shutting down the Rebels 71-42, taking a win back after an Oxford loss on January 2.

Thanks to outside shooting from Angela Puleo and a 20-rebound edge, Vandy secured a large lead and held it throughout 40 minutes. Angela, making her second start of the season since November 18, followed a 4-of-5 performance from 3-point range against Kentucky to hit a career high six from beyond the arc for a season-high 20 points.

The shooter said getting good positioning and feeds from her teammates was the key. "I've been building confidence in practice. But mostly its teammates getting me the ball in good position with my foot down and set and getting a good look at the goal."

Elan Brown also used quick hands on defense and effective jumpers for a double-double effort, sinking 11 points and grabbing a career-high 11 boards. Jence Rhoads had 11 points and Tiffany Clarke had 10 to round out double figures in scoring while Hannah Tuomi snagged 10 rebounds.

The turnaround from the SEC opener with Ole Miss in which Vanderbilt lost after an 18-point lead, was simple, said Head Coach Melanie Balcomb.

"We played defense," Head Coach Melanie Balcomb said. "It was a different mindset. It was nothing different strategy-wise. It was our effort. We played smarter, we played tougher, and we communicated better."

Ole Miss Head Coach Renee Ladner, whose team falls to 1-7 on the road, knew the going would be tough.

"You know coming in to this environment that they win 83 percent of their games. You know that you better defend and you better rebound. Obviously we didn't shoot well, we defend well and we didn't rebound well. We didn't even give them a good scrimmage on a Sunday afternoon."

Vandy out-rebounded Ole Miss 49-29, matching a season-high.

"We miss 16 shots and Vanderbilt made theirs. I will commend Vanderbilt. They were very well prepared and they stayed in their game plan. Vandy took away our strengths and we couldn't hit shots –long shots or baby jumpers and we missed layups. That was disheartening. We just couldn't get anything going offensively, but I think that was to Vanderbilt's credit."

After a 7-7 tie at 16:02 in the first half, Vandy sprinted to a 24-2 run, effectively burying the Rebels in a hole for the game, and they didn't let up. The margin grew to 34 points in the second half with 5:54 remaining.

The Rebels' Kayla Melson, a force in the Oxford game with 30 points and in the SEC with a 19.9 point league-leading average, was held to 11 points. Kayla and teammate Courtney Marbra collided in a first-half play to stop Vandy's Jordan Coleman, and all three went down clutching injuries. Although Kayla and Courtney returned in with eight minutes to go in the first half, Jordan did not return to play.

The Commodores executed across all fronts after an intense week of preparation following the Kentucky loss, a game in which the Wildcats led by as much as 23 points to drop Vandy 78-68.

Vanderbilt improved to 11-0 at home in front of 5,862 fans, an attendance buoyed by the "Jam the Gym" promotion where all tickets were one dollar.

Next up, Vandy takes on LSU at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 3. LSU (15-8, 5-4) comes into the game after defeating No. 20 Georgia 47-41 in Baton Rouge.



Jence Rhoads pops a jumper over defenders.



Tiffany Clarke eyes the goal in a layup.


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