Vandy ends skid, bests 'Cats, 73-67

The Vanderbilt Commodores snapped a 3-game losing streak with a 73-67 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats Thursday night in Lexington, Kentucky. Senior forward Ashley Earley led the Commodores with 24 points and 12 rebounds, her seventh double double of the season. Sophomore forward Carla Thomas added 22 points, and senior guard Abi Ramsey scored 14 points.

Even though Vanderbilt led almost the entire game, it was close all the way, with neither team holding a double-digit lead at any point during the game.

Vanderbilt took the initial lead of the game on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Dee Davis. After a jumper from Samantha Mahoney, six straight points from Vanderbilt's post players gave the Commodores a 9-2 lead with 15:30 left in the game.

Over the next five minutes, the Vanderbilt lead reached nine points on several occasions, but the Commodores weren't able to jump over the hump to put the game out of reach.

Instead, after Vanderbilt led 19-10 with 11:06 left, Kentucky put together a 7-0 run to cut the lead to just two points at 19-17 and shortly afterwards tied the game at 21-21. Then a 3-pointer by Sara Potts gave the Wildcats their only lead of the game at 24-23 with 6:08 left in the first half.

Then, once again, the Commodores regained the upper hand and took an 8-point lead at 34-26 with 2:38 left in the half. But in those last two minutes of the half, it was all Kentucky, as the Wildcats tied the score at 34-34 on a last second layup by Sarah Elliott just before time expired in the half.

After Earley scored the first points of the second half, Mahoney countered for Kentucky to tie the game once again. Then a made free throw from Earley gave the Commodores a 1-point lead, a lead that they held on to for the rest of the game.

It wasn't easy, however. Whenever the Commodores looked like they might pull away for good, the Wildcats, helped by a noisy crowd of over 6,000, clawed their way back into it. A seven-point Vanderbilt lead with 14 minutes left was cut down to just three points with 9:40 left. An eight-point Vanderbilt lead with six minutes left was cut back to just three points in less than a minute.

But just as the Wildcats kept coming back,, the Commodores were able to close the door. The last major Kentucky threat came when a 3-pointer by Angela Phillips cut the Vanderbilt lead to four points at 69-65 with 3:57 left. But the Vanderbilt defense held the Wildcats scoreless for nearly three minutes until Mahoney scored to make the score 67-72 with 1:08 left.

With 55 seconds left, Kentucky started to foul intentionally. It was a strategy that might have paid off, as the Commodores missed the front end of three consecutive 1&1 opportunities. But a blocked shot by Caroline Williams, clutch rebounding by Earley, and a steal by Ramsey kept the Wildcats from capitalizing on the missed free throws and allowed Vanderbilt to claim the 73-67 victory.

For the game, Vanderbilt shot 48.1% from the field (35.7% from 3-point range) and 63.2% from the free throw line. Kentucky shot 51.8% from the field (28.6% from 3-point range) and 55.6% from the free throw line.The Wildcats out-rebounded the Commodores 35-28. They also had more turnovers with 23 compared to only 14 for the Commodores, who were credited with 13 steals.

With the victory, Vanderbilt improves to 14-5 (3-3 SEC) while Kentucky falls to 13-8 (2-4 SEC). Next the Commodores return home for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Florida Gators in Memorial Gym. Gametime is 12:00 noon, and the game will be televised on CSS. Top Stories