VU women smother Savannah State, 61-28

It wasn't pretty, but the Vanderbilt Commodores won their second game of the season Monday night as they defeated the Savannah State Lady Tigers 61-28 in Savannah, Georgia.

Senior forward Ashley Earley led the Commodores with her second double double of the season, scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Senior guard Abi Ramsey added 13, including three 3-pointers, and sophomore post Carla Thomas added 11 points.

Vanderbilt led from the get-go. Thomas scored the first basket of the game, and that two-point lead was the closest that the Lady Tigers would get all night. After a basket by Caroline Moore put Savannah State on the scoreboard at 4-2, the Commodores went on a 15-0 run, including two 3-pointers from Ramsey, to take a 17-2 lead halfway through the first half.

From there on, the Commodore lead continued to grow slowly, but steadily. With two minutes left in the first half, it reached 20 points at 33-13, and just before a halftime, a fastbreak layup by Cherish Stringfield following a block by Thomas gave Vanderbilt a 35-13 halftime lead.

In the second half, the Commodores continued to pull further and further away, stretching the lead to 30 points at 48-18 on a basket by Earley halfway through the half. An 6-0 Vandy run featuring two put-backs by sophomore post Jenn Hall and a fastbreak basket by sophomore guard Katie Antony gave the Commodores their biggest lead of the night at 61-26 with two minutes remaining. After that, Savannnah State managed two more points on a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to make the final score 61-28.

The game was characterized by turnovers galore. On the bright side, the aggressive Vanderbilt defense caused 30 turnovers. Unfortunately, however, Commodores committed 25 turnovers themselves.

"This is a tough team to play," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "Everything they're doing is unorthodox -- their defense is unorthodox; they switch defenses all night. They trap, they press, and they played really hard, and they made us go fast, and we just didn't slow down and read things, and early on the season that's really tough."

Despite the struggle with the Lady Tiger defense, Vanderbilt shot 45.5% from the field while holding Savannah State to 25% shooting. The 28 points scored by the Lady Tigers was the lowest point total for a Vanderbilt opponent since the 1977-78 season when the Commodores defeated the University of the South 86-21.

Neither team shot well from long range, with Savannah State hitting only 3 of 17 shots from 3-point range. The Commodores didn't do much better with 3 of 15. Vanderbilt held a decisive rebounding edge with 40 boards compared to 22 for Savannah State.

Next action for the Commodores is the Vanderbilt Tournament to be held on Friday and Saturday. Vanderbilt's first round opponent will be Rhode Island, a team that Vanderbilt defeated 74-61 in the Gatorade Holiday Classic in Miami last season. Gametime is 2 p.m. In the second game, UT-Martin will play Siena. Consolation and championship games will be played on Saturday.

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