The Commodores were led by senior forward Jenni Benningfield, who notched her first double-double since suffering a stress fracture in January, with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Junior forward Ashley Earley added 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, followed by junior guard Abi Ramsey with 15.
The Lady Bisons scored four points in less than two minutes to take an early 4-0 lead, but that would be Lipscomb's only lead of the game. A layup by Benningfield and a fast break layup by Ramsey off a defensive rebound kicked off a 10-0 Vanderbilt run, as the Commodores held Lipscomb scoreless for over six minutes.
But the tenacious Lady Bisons were able to stop the bleeding, and for the next five minutes, the Vanderbilt lead hovered around ten points until a 3-pointer by Lipscomb's Lynn Roller cut the lead to just five points at 22-17 with 6:54 left in the first half.
The Commodore defense held the Lady Bisons to just four points for the rest of the half to provide a 36-21 Vanderbilt halftime lead.
For the first eleven minutes of the second half, the teams maintained the status quo. With 19:26 left in the game, the Commodores held a 15-point lead. With 17:33 leff, they held a 15-point lead. And with 8:41 left, Vanderbilt once again held a 15-point lead at 57-42.
But suddenly, everything changed. The Lady Bisons didn't score another field goal for the rest of the game. The drought allowed Vanderbilt to break the game wide open. Ramsey's 3-pointer with five minutes left gave the Commodores a 20-point lead at 64-44.
After Earley scored on a putback, Ramsey's fast break layup prompted Lipscomb to call timeout. The pep band struck up "The Hey Song", and somewhere in the distance, a careful listener could hear the proverbial Fat Lady tuning up.
When play resumed with about three minutes left and the score 68-44, Coach Melanie Balcomb put an all-freshman team on the court, consisting of Katie Antony at the point, Cherish Stringfield and Caroline Williams at guard, and Jenn Hall and Carla Thomas in the post. The freshmen finished the game with a 8-1 Vanderbilt run, and the Commodores as a team finished with a 19-4 run.
For the game, Vanderbilt shot 43.8% from the field, while holding Lipscomb to just 30.2%. The Commodores' 3-point shooters struggled, connecting on only four 3-point shots out of 20 attempts. The Lady Bisons didn't fare much better, as they also made four 3-pointers but only attempted 17.
Vanderbilt out-rebounded the Lady Bisons 40-36 and had fewer turnovers with only 10, while forcing 21 Lipscomb turnovers. The 10 turnovers was a season-low for the Commodores, who have struggled with turnovers throughout the season.
The Chattanooga Lady Mocs, which defeated Rutgers 74-69 in the early game Saturday, will be facing Vanderbilt Monday evening on their home court. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at McKenzie Arena, and tickets were still available at press time. Monday's winner advances to the Sweet 16 next weekend in Norman, Okla.
Photo of Abi Ramsey finishing the fast break by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com.