Sizzling Vanderbilt women fry Gamecocks, 88-43

NASHVILLE-- Vanderbilt opened the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule with a resounding bang Sunday, trampling South Carolina 88-43 before a Fan Appreciation Day crowd of 8,412 at Memorial Gym. Dee Davis and Caroline Williams had 17 points each, as the Commodores improved to 12-2.

NASHVILLE-- The Vanderbilt Commodores opened the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule with a resounding bang Sunday, trampling South Carolina 88-43 before a Fan Appreciation Day crowd of 8,412 at Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt improved to 12-2 overall, 1-0 in the SEC, while South Carolina fell to 5-10, 0-2.

Five Commodores scored in double figures, led by sophomore guards Dee Davis and Caroline Williams with 17 points each. Sophomore center Carla Thomas added 16 points, senior guard Abi Ramsey scored 14, and senior post Ashley Earley pulled down 11 boards to go with 15 points for her fifth double double of the season.

Vanderbilt got on the scoreboard quickly on a 3-pointer by Ramsey just 10 seconds into the game. But after Thomas blocked a shot on the other end of the court, Vanderbilt was whistled for a shot-clock violation. Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb immediately subbed Williams for Ramsey. On the next possession, Williams sank a 3-pointer, the first of five 3-pointers she'd make before the afternoon was over.

After Melanie Johnson scored for the Gamecocks, Vanderbilt went inside to Earley for a couple of baskets to take a 10-2 lead at the first media timeout. But after the timeout, the Commodores didn't score for nearly four minutes, allowing South Carolina to trim the lead to four points at 10-6 before Thomas broke the scoring drought.

And then against the South Carolina zone, the Commodores went on a 3-point rampage. First Williams hit two, to give Vanderbilt an 18-6 lead. After Stacy Booker hit one for the Gamecocks, Ramsey hit two more to give Vanderbilt a 24-9 lead. Williams followed with a steal and a layup on the fast break. Then Thomas completed an old-fashioned 3-point play to give Vanderbilt a 20-point lead at 29-9 with 8:20 left in the first half.

For the rest of the half, the Vanderbilt defense didn't allow a field goal. South Carolina's only points came from four free throws, allowing the Commodores to take a 30-point lead at 43-13 into the locker room at halftime.

For the first ten minutes of the second half, the lead hovered around 30 points. Midway through the half, Vanderbilt led 61-30. Then over the final ten minutes of the game, the Commodores gradually increased their lead, thanks in part to 3-pointers from Williams, Ramsey, Davis and sophomore guard Cherish Stringfield. The Commodores also profited from solid free throw shooting, connecting on all nine of their foul shots in the last ten minutes of the game.

South Carolina scored for the last time on a 3-pointer by Angela Hunter with 4:58 left in the game to make the score 76-43. Vanderbilt then finished the game on a 12-0 run, with a pair of free throws by junior guard Erica Grimaldi ending the scorng for the night and giving the Commodores a 45-point lead at 88-43, their biggest lead of the game.

For the game, Vanderbilt shot 48.8% from the field. From 3-point range, the Commodores shot 52.4%, including 5 of 8 by Williams and 4 of 7 by Ramsey. The Gamecocks shot only 27.3% from the field, 25.0% from 3-point range. Vanderbilt shot 87.5% from the free throw line, compared to 50% for South Carolina. Vanderbilt out-rebounded the taller Gamecocks 43-35 and had fewer turnovers with 14 compared to 21 for South Carolina.

Next the Commodores hit the road, traveling to Auburn (9-5, 0-1) for a Thursday night game.

Vanderbilt's Cherish Stringfield, right, grabs a loose ball as she struggles with South Carolina's Lauren Simms (AP Photo/John Russell)

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