Tennessee built an early 13 point lead in the 1st quarter and that was all it took for the Vols to come away with a win in Nashville and continue their winning streak of 6 games. Vanderbilt dropped their 4th game in a row after a cold shooting night and multiple lapses in decision making with turnovers. It was a 70-57 loss that Vanderbilt couldn't find an answer for the more athletic Tennessee team and saw their record drop to 10-5 overall and 0-2 in the SEC.
Head coach Stephanie White appeared to have her team ready and excited to play their rivals but excitement didn't matter once the game tipped off. Tennessee built a strong lead and eventually led 20-7 headed into the 2nd quarter. Vanderbilt would wake up a bit in the 2nd quarter and bring the game closer but the Vols still had a ten point lead going into halftime.
The 1st half was riddled with turnovers and missed opportunities by Vanderbilt. Tennessee played strong defense and moved the ball well enough on offense but were still struggling to knock down shots, that it gave the Commodores a chance at getting back into the game.
The second half became much of the same. Vanderbilt fought hard but continued turning the ball over and on offense, were not able to generate good looks nor convert on the free throw line. It just wasn't the Commodores night. Tennessee was too much to handle, including their size where center Mercedes Russell had a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds. The Vols overall size was a problem for Vanderbilt. Tennessee was able to get multiple second chances on offensive rebounds, where the Commodores didn't box out or just simply couldn't get the ball.
Vanderbilt senior forward Marq'ues Webb did an admirable job in the paint. She finished with 5 points but had 11 rebounds and did a solid job of battling the Tennessee bigs all night. The player of the game for Vanderbilt however was freshman LeaLea Carter.
The Dickson County native showed on Thursday night why she was such a highly recruited prospect as she put together her best game of the year up to this point. She sliced her way to the rim and shot the ball well enough to finish with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Carter was the lone Commodore that showed enough athleticism and scoring prowess to compete with the kind of talent that the Vols posses. It was a great sign of hopefully more to come from the Commodores McDonald's All-American.
Vanderbilt has now dropped four games in row and seem to be hitting a wall on their season. Things probably need to be adjusted for the team as they are set to go through the rigors of the Southeastern Conference. Starting off the SEC season at 0-2 isn't a good thing but it's a long season and this team has a good coaching staff that will continue pushing the team.
The Commodores will be back on the road this weekend as they are set to face Georgia down in Athens on Sunday, tipping off at 11 am Central. The game will be aired on the SEC Network.