The Lady Tigers scored the first four points of the game, then Earley scored on a putback of a miss by Thomas, then scored again with a jumper to tie the game a 4-4. Then a fast break layup by Augustus started off a 9-0 LSU run to give the Lady Tigers a 13-4 lead with 13:45 left in the first half.
That run put the Lady Tigers ahead for good, and from that point on, the rest of the game was a game of catch-up for the Commodores. But pursuit turned out to be futile, as the Lady Tigers always managed to keep them safely at a distance. For instance, when a couple of baskets by Dee Davis cut the deficit to five points at 13-8, Scholanda Hoston answered with a 3-pointer on the other end.
And so it went the rest of the game. LSU would pull away and threaten to blow the game wide open. Then the Commodores would make a run to narrow the gap, only to have the Lady Tigers distance themselves once again.
With 9:07 left in the first half, the LSU lead reached double digits for the first time at 22-12 and then grew to 14 points at 26-12 with 6:09 left in the half. But again the Commodores whittled it back to nine points and finally down to seven points before a jumper by Augustus four seconds before the halftime buzzer gave the Lady Tigers a 36-27 halftime lead.
The second half continued the same pattern. LSU stretched the lead out to 16 points four minutes into the half. Then Vanderbilt cut it back down to ten points at 49-39 with 12:41 left in the game. Then a few minutes later, LSU's lead had grown back to 16 points, then the Commodores cut it back to 10 points at 59-49 with 6:59 left in the game.
And that was as close as it got. LSU's lead slowly increased until it reached 18 points at 74-56 with 2:27 left in the game. In the waning minutes, nine points by Davis and Abi Ramsey's third 3-pointer of the game trimmed the lead back to the final margin of eleven points at 79-68.
For the game, Vanderbilt shot 39.7% from the field, while LSU shot 57.4%. From 3-point range the teams were similar with Vanderbilt connecting on 5 of 12 for 41.7% while LSU made 3 of 7 for 42.9%. From the free throw line, Vanderbilt made 17 of 19 (89.5%), while LSU made 14 of 24 (58.3%).
LSU held a narrow edge on the boards with 33 rebounds compared to 31 for Vanderbilt, although the Commodores had more offensive rebounds with 18 compared to 15 for the Lady Tigers. Turnovers were also nearly equal with 18 for Vanderbilt and 17 for LSU.
With the loss, Vanderbilt falls to 13-5 overall (2-3 SEC) while LSU improves to 18-1 overall (5-0 SEC). The next action for Vanderbilt is Thursday night in Lexington when they meet the Kentucky Wildcats (13-7 overall, 2-3 SEC). Next home game is Sunday, January 30 at 12:00 when the Commodores host the Florida Gators.
Louisiana State guard Seimone Augustus, bottom, wrestles with Vanderbilt's Ashley Earley for the ball(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)