Women's Hoops: Vandy tops UT

The Vanderbilt Commodores overcame a slow start to upset the Tennessee Lady Vols 76-59 Saturday night in Memorial Gym.

Tennessee jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Vanderbilt scored their first basket of the game with 16:10 left in the first half. The Commodores continued to struggle offensively through the first 10 minutes of the half, as they hit only 2 out of their first 11 shots from the field. During the drought, Tennessee staked a double digit lead at 15-4.

But then the Commodore ship began to right itself. With Chantelle Anderson on the bench due to two early fouls, Vandy hit 7 of their next 8 shots from the field to pull within one at 21-20 on a jumper by Zuzi Klimesova with 4:40 remaining. A few minutes later, Tia Battle grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to give Vandy their first lead of the game at 24-23 with 3:06 left in the first half.

As it turned out, Tennessee would never reclaim the lead. A 3-pointer by Ashley McElhiney gave Vandy their largest first half lead at 27-23 with 1:45 left, but a couple of baskets by Shyra Ely, last year's Naismith high school player of the year, helped Tennessee to tie the game at halftime 29-29.

The Commodores came out of the locker room ready to rumble. A couple made free throws by Jillian Danker, followed by three straight baskets by Chantelle Anderson gave Vanderbilt a 37-29 lead with 17: 23 remaining.  After that, the Lady Vols would never cut the lead below 6 points. A 3-pointer by Ashley McElhiney gave the Commodores their first double digit lead of the night at 47-35 with 12:43 remaining.

Tennessee wasn't quite done, however. April McDivitt's third 3-pointer cut the Vandy lead to 6 points at 65-59 with 1:48 remaining. But from there on, the Lady Vols missed all eight of their shots from the field, while sending Vanderbilt repeatedly to the line where the Commodores connected on 11 of 14 free throw attempts as the clock wound down.  When the dust settled, Vanderbilt claimd the 76-59 victory.

Four Commodores scored in double figures, led by Chantelle Anderson with 22 points, all in the second half. Jillian Danker notched her first double double of the season with 10 rebounds and 19 points, including 8 of 8 from the charity stripe. Zuzi Klimesova added 15 and 5 assists, and Ashley McElhiney scored 13 points, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range. Danker was leading rebounder with 10, followed by Anderson with 5.

Tennessee was led in scoring by April McDivitt with 13 points, followed by Kara Lawson with 11 points and Michelle Snow with 10. Snow was leading rebounder for the Lady Vols with 6.

For the game, Vanderbilt shot 55.3% from the field compared to 39.1% for Tennessee. Tennessee's field goal percentage dropped from 44% in the first half to 35% in the second half, while Vanderbilt's rose from 44% in the first half to 68% in the second.  Vanderbilt held a slight rebounding edge at 32-31, while Tennessee forced more turnovers 17-14. One key statistic is that Vanderbilt hit 20 of 24 free throws, while Tennessee only went to the line 9 times for the entire game, all in the first half.

With the win Vanderbilt improves to 20-5 for the season, 6-3 in the SEC. Tennessee falls to 18-2, 7-1 in the SEC. After a busy week, the Commodores now have more than a week until their next game, a February 10 game with Missisippi State in Memorial Gym.

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