Many observers agreed that Chantelle Anderson played the best all-round game of her Vanderbilt career, as she had her first double double of the season with 33 points and 10 rebounds, as well as 5 blocks, 3 steals, 4 assists with only 2 turnovers and hit 2 of 3 shots from behind the arc and 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Zuzi Klimesova added 18 points and 5 rebounds for the Commodores.
For the third game in a row the Commodores jumped out to a quick start, putting 7 quick points on the board before Kentucky scored their first basket of the game. In the first 5 minutes of the game, Vanderbilt connected on 8 of 11 shots from the field to jump out to a 19-5 lead with 14:22 left in the first half.
After that, the Wildcats were never able to cut the lead back to single digits. With 5:14 left in the first half, they cut the lead briefly back to 10 at 31-21, but the Commodores countered with a run of their own, reaching their biggest lead of the half at 41-23 with a minute left in the half before Kentucky closed out the half with five straight points to put the halftime score at 41-28.
Throughout out the second half, the game remained safely out of reach of the Wildcats. The Vanderbilt lead never fell below twelve, despite different combinations of Vanderbilt players taking the floor as Coach Foster looked to the bench. Vanderbilt reached their biggest lead of the night at 58-34 on one of Anderson's 3-pointers with 11:48 remaining. For the rest of the game, the lead mostly stayed between 17 and 20 points, with the final margin of victory being 71-54.
This game was won at the foul line. Although the Commodores shot well under their SEC-leading free throw percentage of 75.6%, Kentucky's physical, gambling style of defense sent the Commodores to the free throw 29 times compared to only 5 times for the Wildcats. Vanderbilt converted on 19 of those attempts, while Kentucky made 3, so the difference in points scored from the free throw line was almost identical to the difference in the final score.
Anderson led all scorers with 33 points, while Klimesova added 18 for Vanderbilt. Two Wildcats also scored in double figures, SeSe Helm with 14, and freshman Keiko Miller-Tate with 12. LaTonya McDole was leading rebounder with 8, while Helm had 7.
Vanderbilt shot 50% (40% from 3-point range) from the floor for the game, compared to 40% (42.9% from 3-point range) for Kentucky. Kentucky held a slight edge on the boards, 31-30 and also in turnovers with only 13 compared to 15 for Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt had 7 blocked shots, while the Wildcats had none.
Next, Vanderbilt will host Ole Miss Sunday afternoon in Memorial Gym. The game will honor the Susan Gray School for Children on the Peabody Campus, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the school. Gametime is 4 p.m., later than the usual Sunday time to accommodate the broadcast of the game on CSS.
POST GAME COMMENTS
The Press: Coach, can you talk about the offense? Is it where you want it to be? It seems to go more in spurts.
Coach Foster: Well, we shoot 50% from the field and take 29 foul shots. I think you have to take into consideration the physical nature of the game and understand that foul shots are part of the game. And I think we took our time.
The Press: Coach, do you think that this is the most complete game that Chantelle has ever played?
Coach Foster: (pause) Uh, yeah. Yeah. Double double. 5 blocks, 3 steals, and 11 falls to the ground.
The Press: Chantelle, do you think that this it he most complete game that you have ever played?
Chantelle Anderson: Well . . . definitely this year. I think it's my best game to date. I need to get off the floor a little more. I think I played sharp for the most part, except for the times I got knocked down because some of those, I just fell. I have to work on staying on my feet at little bit more, getting lower, keeping my balance.
The Press: Chantelle, is there something about playing Kentucky that brings out something in you?
Chantelle: Nothing personal. I don't know. I have nothing personal against Kentucky.
The Press: Anything defensive that they do?
Chantelle: I think their defensive philosophy in the beginning was to play off of me, so I took a few outside shots. Then I got mad because I wasn't making them, so I decided I had to go down to the block for a little while. I don't think that's any different than anyone else.
The Press: Chantelle, are you getting where you want to be in regard to staying out of foul trouble?: You didn't have any in the first half, and some of us agree that two calls were real crummy in the second half . . .
Coach Foster (interrupting): You don't need to tell her that.
Chantelle: (laughter) I still have a lot to work on. I think tonight was a good night as far as staying out of foul trouble. I did (inaudible) for the most part, we talked about that a lot, being disciplined, trying to stay more straight up and move my feet more. So tonight was a good night for that. The biggest thing for me as a player on all aspects of my game is to try and get more consistent. Consistency -- once I get that, then I can say, YES.
The Press: What did you think about those three's you hit?
Chantelle: I was surprised I took the other ones after I missed my first one. But, no, we've been working on that. We work on that in practice. We have a game called "girls game", and I shoot 3's a lot in that. When I got here, I told Coach Foster I wasn't ever shooting a three, and he said, "Oh yes you are!"
The Press: Can you talk about defense?
Coach Foster: It's getting better. It's getting better, there's a little more variety to it, a little more purpose. I think we've had three pretty good defensive performances in a row, getting after it, maintaining an intensity over 40 minutes. And we have some people stepping up to their responsibilities, and we have a chance to be a decent defensive basketball team if we just keep -- we'll figure out how to and then we'll just have to stick to what we've figured out for that game, and it'll vary from game to game.
The Press: It seems like the team is blocking more shots this year?
Coach Foster: No, I think a couple of things come into factor. I've said this before. Post players learn and develop in stages, and the older you get, the smarter you get. I thought Chantelle tonight was smart because she was blocking shots rotating from the weak side and getting smaller players' shots who were not maybe fully extended. That's the kind of shots you should block. And Tia Battle can deflect some and has, and Zuzi I think got one today. I think it's a dimension that we used to do a lot in the years past, and I think the interesting thing is now players, when we do start blocking shots, have to have a desire to go get the ball. The person who blocks it a lot of times is not going to, and all these shots that were blocked today were blocked inbounds. You've gotta treat it like a rebound, you've gotta go get it.
The Press: About the Kentucky defense, was it one of the quicker, more hands on that you've faced this year?
Jillian Danker: They're a typical SEC team. I mean, they're real physical. They're aggressive and athletic. We've played some really good teams this year, so I think it would be hard to say that they're the best. But they're an awful good team, and they're awful physical, awful athletic, and we've gotta get used to it. We've got a whole half a season left of that.
The Press: So far this season your free throw shooting . . .
Jillian (interrupting): gosh, I knew someone was going to say something about that! (laughter) I'm just playing. I deserve it. I deserve it.
The Press: Was this your one day off?
Jillian: No, I mean, I'm disappointed. I've gotta work on it, so there's work to be done. You can't be satisifed with where you're at. Obviously I need to that. I'm disappointed in myself. I need to work harder.
The Press: With Kentucky's 25 fouls and 11 steals, did all their gambling kind of work in your favor tonight?
Coach Foster: We went to the foul line 29 times. When we ran our high low game, I think we were very effective. I think a couple of our young kids got a lesson today. You can talk about the SEC and talk about the SEC until you're blue in the face, but until you actually get into it, and then you understand that it's a more physical league. It's a more aggressive league. It's survival of the fittest. And I think our practice should be better tomorrow, because how there's a frame of reference for it. We need to practice like that. Our young players have been learning as they've gone along, and . . . Lesson 10.
The Press: Jillian, could you talk about your quick start?
Jillian: I think it's something we need to get used to, and I think it's something that we need to make sure we do consistently because a quick start is what you need to do. That's something you've got to expect. You can't be surprised when you get off to a good start. That's what's supposed to happen, and we need to make sure it keeps happening.
The Press: Did you have any special strategy for Anderson?
Kentucky Head Coach Bernadette Mattox: No, we played her straight up. She's a bigtime player. She's an All-American. She's going to get her points. We weren't trying to stop her at all. She got her points. I've got to say I'm very pleased with my basketball club tonight. I thought we fought, we never gave up, we hung in there. You look at the categories and points in the paint, we out-scored them, points off turnovers, we out-scored them, second chance points, we out-scored them, fast break points, we out-scored them. They score one more field goal than we do. Free throw line -- they shoot 29, we shoot 5. That's where it was won and lost. I'm very pleased with my basketball team.