Vanderbilt scored the first points of the game on a jumper by Ashley Earley and never lost the lead after that. Several consecutive missed shots by the Commodores kept the score close for the first few minutes of the game, with Vanderbilt leading 4-2 at the 16:53 mark.
But then, over the next three and a half minutes, the Vanderbilt held Saint Louis scoreless by forcing four turnovers and only allowing the Billikens one rebound. During that span, Saint Louis only managed two shots, and the Commodores scored 14 straight points to take a 18-2 lead with 13:46 left in the half.
It was never close after that. As the half progressed, the lead continued to slowly grow, passing 20 points at 40-19 with five minutes left and reaching 27 points before a basket by Mia Johnson trimmed to 25 points at 51-26 just before halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, Vanderbilt went on a 7-0 run to take a 32-point lead at 58-26 less than two minutes into the half. As the second half went on, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb went increasingly to the bench. Earley played only six minutes in the second half, and Ramsey and Davis only played 8 minutes each.
Even so, the Vanderbilt lead continued to grow, reaching 40 points at 79-39 with 8:25 left in the half on a couple of made free throws by sophomore guard Caroline Williams. A driving layup by freshman post Katie Eggers with 1:40 left gave the Commodores their biggest lead of the night at 93-45. In the final minute, aided by a Vanderbilt foul, a turnover and a missed shot, Saint Louis was able to trim the lead back a few points to the final margin of 94-51.
For the game Vanderbilt shot 54.8% from the field while holding Saint Louis to 37.3% shooting. Almost half of the Billkens' 51 shots were from 3-point range, but they only connected on eight of them. Vanderbilt didn't shoot particularly well from the outside either, shooting only 30.8% from long range. From the line, however, Vanderbilt shot 84.6%. Earley was a perfect 6 for 6, and Jules and Williams were both 4 for 4.
The Commodores out-rebounded the Billikens 36-30, although offensive rebounds were even at 13 for each team. The difference in turnovers was much greater, with the Commodores forcing 29 turnovers, but only committing 12 themselves. The foul differential was notable, too, as Saint Louis was charged with 24 fouls compared to 11 for Vanderbilt.
With the victory Vanderbilt improves to 7-1, while Saint Louis falls to 1-7. Next, the Commodores hit the road again, this time to the California coast for the Hilton Woodland Hills Beach Classic, sponsored by Pepperdine University. In the opening round, on December 20, Vanderbilt will play Brigham Young, while Pepperdine meets Wright State, with the championship and consolation games the following day.
Next home action for the Commodores will be on January 2, 2005, when they host Troy State in a 12:00 game in Memorial Gym.
Cherish Stringfield (3) swats the ball away from Saint Louis forward Marquita McFarland (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)