Women's Hoops: Vandy wins 22nd; beat LSU

The Vanderbilt Commodores notched their 22nd win of the season with a 77-60 victory over the LSU Lady Tigers Thursday night in Memorial Gym.

Vanderbilt jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game and still held a 5-point lead at 13-8 with 14:37 left in the half. But then five missed Vanderbilt shots, each followed by an LSU defensive rebound, fueled a 10-0 LSU run, giving the Lady Tigers an 18-13 lead with 10:57 left in the half.

LSU's lead didn't last long, as a 3-pointer by Jillian Danker and an offensive rebound and layup by Tia Battle tied the score at 18-18 with 9:29 left. For a few minutes the teams traded baskets, leaving the score still tied at 24-24 with 6:28 left. But a 12- 2 Vanderbilt run to end the half gave the Commodores a 10-point halftime lead at 36-26.

Four straight points from Chantelle Anderson to start off the second half gave Vanderbilt a 14-point lead at 40-26. LSU managed to trim the lead to 9 at 40-31 on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Aiysha Smith at the 16:03 mark, but Jenni Benningfield's second 3-pointer of the game immediately pushed the lead back to 12. LSU never managed to cut the Commodore lead to single digits again. Vanderbilt continued to steadily build the lead, until it reached 23 points, the largest of the night, at 75-52 with 3:34 left in the game. From there on, Vanderbilt cleared the bench, as every active player on Vanderbilt's roster got into the game. When the final buzzer sounded, the score stood at 77-60.

Three Commodores scored in double figures, led by Naismith Finalist Chantelle Anderson with 23 points, followed by seniors Zuzi Klimesova and Jillian Danker with 14 each. The two remaining Vanderbilt starters, Jenni Benningfield and Ashley McElhiney, each added 8 points. Benningfield was leading rebounder with 10, followed by Anderson with 8. Benningfield also led the Commodores in assists with 5, followed by Anderson with 4.

The Lady Tigers were led in scoring by Aiysha Smith with 23 points, followed by Temeke Johnson with 10. Johnson, the smallest player on the floor at 5'3, was LSU's leading rebounder with 6.

For the game, Vanderbilt shot 47.5% from the field while LSU shot 47.1%. From the FT line, LSU was 11 of 13 for 84.6%, while the Commodores with 14 of 17 for 82.4%. But Vanderbilt dominated the boards 37-24, with 14 offensive rebounds compared to only 5 for LSU. Vanderbilt had only five turnovers, with 3 of them coming in the first five minutes of the game, compared to 9 for LSU, which led to 15 points for Vanderbilt.

With the victory, the Commodores improve to 22-5 overall, 8-3 in the SEC. LSU falls to 13-9, 6-5 in the SEC. Next the Commodores travel to Knoxville for a re-match with the Lady Vols. Gametime is 6 p.m. Central, and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.


The Press: What did you think about the 15 assists and 5 turnovers?

Vanderbilt Head Coach Jim Foster: I like it. Actually, we usually have more assists than that. Tonight we had more baskets than in a long time from people creating their own shots. I love the 5 turnovers. I love to see that. Again, I think Ashley Earley had a couple of shots off the bounce and Jillian Danker did, so I think that's probably where our assist total is down a little bit.

The Press: Is there anything in particular you attribute that to, like being unable to get shots off?

Coach Foster: Nah, I just think they extended their defense, and they were trapping, and some other opportunities popped in, and I think some of our players are just starting maybe to understand where they can score. What we do on offense is not easy to . . .some of our freshmen are just starting to maybe get a glimpse of where they can get opportunities.

The Press: Did we seem a little lost defensively tonight, losing players and so on?

Coach Foster: I don't necessarily think so. I think that they were setting some great screens, and we had to make that adjustment. They rear screen on the perimeter as well as anybody out there. And if you're not anticipating and communicating, I think it was more a matter of that than being lost. We weren't talking enough, and once we started to adjust, I thought we did a -- they're a very good offensive basketball team with a lot of weapons. They score as well as anybody in our league.

The Press: To what do you attribute Jillian's scoring tonight?

Coach Foster: Reading situations and knowing that it was an opportunity that was presenting itself. I think a little earlier in the year when Jillian's shot maybe wasn't falling, I think she was forcing the drive a little bit. She realized that, and she's watched enough film to understand, and she's got a good frame of reference, and I think she made some good decisions tonight as to when to take the ball to the basket.

The Press: What would you add to that, Jillian?

Jillian Danker: It just seemed to be like he was saying -- they were coming out and extending it, and so you could just see different lanes to try and get through. So it looked like there was room to get through, it looked like there were lanes to cut through, and I was trying to find those.

The Press: Jenni, can you talk a little about your game, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, just being in the right place at the right time, or what happened?

Jenni Benningfield: A little bit. I think on the defensive end with the triangle and our two guards playing man-to-man, we had the top of the triangle, and the ball just kind of fell when we all were blocking out, most of the time anyway, and made an effort to help out the guards when people would set screens. On the offensive end, i think we used what they gave us. When they were double-teaming Chantelle, we made the pass out . . and people made some big shots when we needed it when they were having a run. I think we reversed the ball when we needed to and got the shots and made the extra pass.

The Press: Chantelle, what does it mean going into Knoxville on Saturday on a 3-game winning streak?

Chantelle Anderson: I think our team is playing with a lot of confidence. I think we're playing pretty well together right now. We have to continue to play with intensity on defense and continue to execute our offense. I still think we can better on offense. The team has gotten better every single game for the past few games, and we just need to continue to do that, no matter who we play.

LSU Head Coach Sue Gunter: There was just too much Vanderbilt. I thought that we kind of a ran out of gas. I thought the first half we did a pretty good job. I was a little disappointed in the last 3 minutes and 34 seconds of the first half. I thought up until that point we were doing pretty much what we had tried to do and what we had asked out kids to do. And then we let them start to run on the offensive boards and didn't have an answer for it. In the end, it was just too much Vandy.

The Press: What did you ask your kids to do in the first half?

Coach Gunter: We just tried to do a couple of things different and change our defenses enough to kind of keep Vanderbilt off-balance. You can't just let Anderson get down and bury you on the post. You gotta try to do something to help whoever is trying to guard her, so we played a little bit of a combination defense for a while, then we went to a matchup zone then we went to a man, then we were doubling down, and just doing some different things, just enough so that they couldn't get settled in. As you probably know, we have great respect for Klimesova, too, so we were trying to just man her a little and trying to do a good job on her and not let the high-low action get going that they normally get. And I thought our kids did a pretty good job. The bottom line if you look at all the stats, the free throws were fairly, we really got killed on the boards. That was the difference in the game was the offensive boards. We shot about the same percentage, we shot about the same free throws, but you look down at how many 2nd chance points did they get. Those are the kinds of things that just kill you. It was really hard for us to hang in there on the boards, but they tried to carry out what we asked them to, and finally just ran out of the game.

The Press: It looked like you had Vanderbilt a little befuddled with your offense in the first part of the game. Tell me what you were . . .

Coach Gunter: We were just running our basic motion offense against the zone, and Jim does a good job of changing his defenses and giving you different looks as well, and he'll match up. And we found in many instances our motion offense is effective against his matchup, and you know they're going to adjust as well. But we were a little bit patient. We wanted some paint touches. We wanted to get the ball into Aiysha on the low block, and we got some nice points inside early, and we were effective. But I think the bottom line is for us to be effective, we have to get some transition baskets, too, and we're not big enough to stand in there and push and shove and be physical. We're not. We're much more finesse. And if you can't get the ball, then you can't run transition, and we couldn't. In the second half, toward the end, I thought we got aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, and that's what we had asked them to do. You're not going to sit back and beat Vandy just with perimeter shots. You've got to take it to them. You've got to ask Chantelle and Zuz to play defense as well.

Let me just say this. I don't know of a better balanced basketball team in the country than Vandy. I think Jim has worked very hard to put this team together. I think he's done an outstanding job with it, and there really is no weakness in that starting five. There's just not one. I told someone before we came in that the thing that has to happen for us to beat Vanderbilt is that we have to play just about as well as we can play and hope that they have an off-night. I'm not being facetious. This is a team that's played together for a while now. They're beautifully balanced. They've got the perimeter shooting. They can all shot the perimeter shots. McElhiney does a great job of running the ship, then with Chantelle and Klimesova inside, you've got to be on your p's and q's. And they've got great size, and they've got good speed. They're not what you call quick, but they've got good speed. And he's just done a great job of putting them together, and they're always prepared, and they understand their roles. And I think that's something that all of coaches have to work on very hard. And when you've got a team that's as talented as his, they have to understand their roles, and he does a pretty good job of helping them understand their roles.

Vanderbilt's Chantelle Anderson, left, pulls a rebound away from LSU's Scholanda Dorrell (32) in the first half on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002 in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

LSU's Roneeka Hodges (5) swats the ball out of the control of Vanderbilt's Zuzi Klimesova (13) in the first half on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002 in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Box Score

HOME TEAM: Vanderbilt                77  VISITORS: LSU                        60
10 SMITH,K  0-0   0-0   0-0   1  0 0  0  01 TARDY,K  4-8   0-1   0-0   3  0 4  8
12 BATTLE,  1-2   0-0   0-0   2  0 0  2  02 JOHNSON  4-10  0-0   2-2   6  2 5 10
13 KLIMESO  7-13  0-0   0-0   5  2 0 14  04 HODGES,  4-6   0-2   1-1   2  2 1  9
14 FERRAGA  0-0   0-0   0-0   0  0 1  0  05 HODGES,  1-6   0-1   0-0   2  1 0  2
20 RAMSEY,  1-3   0-2   0-0   0  0 1  2  21 HANTEN,  0-0   0-0   0-0   0  0 1  0
21 ANDERSO  8-13  0-0   7-8   8  4 3 23  31 SMITH,A  9-17  1-1   4-4   5  1 4 23
22 MCELHIN  2-6   1-4   3-3   3  1 1  8  32 DORRELL  2-4   0-1   2-4   3  1 1  6
23 COLLI,J  1-3   0-2   0-2   0  0 0  2  55 WILLIS,  0-0   0-0   2-2   1  0 0  2
24 HAGER,H  0-1   0-1   0-0   2  0 0  0  
32 EARLEY,  1-3   0-0   2-2   2  1 2  4  
33 DANKER,  5-8   2-5   2-2   2  2 3 14  
42 BENNING  3-7   2-5   0-0  10  5 1  8  
43 CORBETT  0-1   0-0   0-0   0  0 0  0  
50 STOREY,  0-1   0-0   0-0   0  0 0  0  

TOTALS.... 29-61  5-19 14-17 37 15 12    TOTALS.... 24-51  1-6  11-13 23  7 16 
TEAM--> FG:47.5%  3FG:26.3%  FT:82.4%    TEAM--> FG:47.1%  3FG:16.7%  FT:84.6%

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