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Vanderbilt women win at Drexel

PHILADELPHIA (VUAD)-- The Vanderbilt women have obviously moved past the stinging loss they suffered two weeks ago at Green Bay. But that doesn't mean they haven't forgotten it. And they don't intend to.

Fueled by the memories of that late-game falter, the Commodores closed Thursday's game in strong style and defeated Drexel, 74-64, to earn their first road win of the year. 

Rachel Bell scored a career-high 24 points, going 10-of-14 from the floor, as Vanderbilt (6-2) won its fifth straight game. Kristen Gaffney finished with 11 points and Jasmine Jenkins and Christa Reed added 10 each. 
Sarah Curran led Drexel (2-4) with 23 points. 
The Commodores haven't lost since Nov. 21, when they let a big fourth quarter lead slip away at Green Bay. Against Drexel, the Commodores carried a 12-point lead into fourth quarter, and withstood a late push by the Dragons to earn the win.
"At the end of the third quarter, we talked about what happened to us at Green Bay," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "We were determined to learn from that game, and not let it happen again. We wanted to keep adding to our lead this time."
And that what's they did. Christa Reed scored five quick points -- on a jumper and a 3-pointer -- to open the fourth quarter, and Vanderbilt extended the lead to 53-36 with 8:33 to play. 
Moments later, Drexel put together a 10-2 run, capped by Rachel Pearson's 3-pointer, to cut Vanderbilt's lead to 59-50 with 4:05 to go. But the Commodores calmly responded by hitting six straight free throws -- two by Gaffney and four by Minta Spears -- during a 46-second stretch to rebuild a 65-50 advantage with 2:18 to go. Drexel never pulled closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
"I liked the way we finished tonight," said Balcomb. "We didn't get rattled when they made their run, and that was good to see."
Bell was the shooting star, going 4-of-6 from long range while setting a new career high in scoring for the second straight game. (She scored 20 in Vanderbilt's win over Air Force on Monday). 
Vanderbilt shot 58 percent from the floor, and had nine players reach the scoring column. Drexel finished 11-of-22 from 3-point range, but endured a pair of long scoring droughts -- one in each half -- that allowed Vanderbilt to maintain control. The Commodores took the lead for good on a layup by Reed with 1:13 left in the first quarter.  
Gaffney finished with a team-high five rebounds for Vanderbilt, and Minta Spears had six assists.
Vanderbilt returns home Saturday, hosting East Tennessee State at 1 p.m.

 


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