VU women soar past Redhawks, 93-50

Three Commodores recorded double doubles to lead Vanderbilt to a 93-50 victory over the Miami University Red Hawks Saturday afternoon in Oxford, Ohio.

Senior forward Ashley Earley led the team in both scoring and rebounding with 25 points and 15 boards. Sophomore post Carla Thomas added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore point guard Dee Davis dished out 10 assists in addition to 18 points.

For the first five minutes, the game was close. Vanderbilt held a narrow 9-7 lead in the early minutes and at the first media timeout five minutes into the game, the Commodores held a modest 4-point lead at 11-7.

Carla Thomas (50) goes for the loose ball with Miami Ohio forward Laura Markwood (33) right, during the first half Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004, in Oxford, Ohio. (AP/David Kohl)

After the timeout, however, a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Cherish Stringfield ignited a 15-2 Vanderbilt run to give the Commodores a 17-point lead at 26-9 with 11:18 left in the half.

Then Miami was able to stop the bleeding, and for the rest of the half, the teams maintained the status quo. Vanderbilt increased the lead to as much at 22 points, and Miami cut it down to thirteen, but when the half ended, the Commodore lead was back to 17 points at 46-29.

During halttime, there was only one topic of discussion: Defense. In the first half, struggles in offense led to struggles on defense.

"When we weren't shooting the ball well, and we let our poor shooting get us down on defense," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "So at halftime we talked attitude and how great we want to be defensively, and I think our mental toughness and our attitude changed."

The halftime talk had the desired effect. Coming out of the locker room, Vanderbilt held Miami scoreless for more than six minutes until a free throw by Katie Guerrirero broke the scoring drought for the Red Hawks.

But the Commodores maintained their defensive intensity, and it was another four minutes before Miami scored their first field goal of the second half at the 9:47 mark. By then the Vanderbilt lead had ballooned to 40 points at 72-32 and grew to 45 points at 83-38 with 5:55 left in the game.

A few minutes later, the Red Hawks trimmed the lead back to 37 points on several quick baskets. But Balcomb used a 30-second timeout to reiterate the importance of defensive effort, and by the end of the game, a 3-pointer by sophmore guard Caroline Williams had restored the lead back to 43 points at 93-50.

For the game, Vanderbilt shot 52.2% from the field while holding Miami to 32.8%. Neither team shot well from 3-point range, with Vanderbilt connecting on 29.6% on 3-point attempts, while Miami shot 26.7%. The Commodores held an edge on the boards with 42 rebounds compared to 36 for Miami. Vanderbilt had 16 turnovers, while Miami turned the ball over 28 times, including 17 Vanderbilt steals.

With the victory Vanderbilt improves to 6-0, while Miami falls to 4-2. Vanderbilt's next game is at Bowling Green, Ky. Thursday, when the Commodores visit Diddle Arena to play the Lady Toppers of Western Kentucky.

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