Women's Hoops: Vandy overpowers Kentucky

Led by 28 points from Chantelle Anderson and 16 each from Zuzi Klimesova and Ashley Earley, the Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 73-57 Thursday night in Lexington, Kentucky.

The game got off to a disjointed start. Thanks to a malfunctioning shot clock, the officials had to stop play three different times in the first minutes of the game to tinker with the clock. Vanderbilt's play in the first couple of minutes mirrored the shot clock problems, as the Commoodores turned the ball over twice before scoring a point.

Soon both problems were resolved. The shot clock began to function normally, and so did the Commodores offense, as Anderson and Klimesova combined to score the Commodores' first 8 points of the game.

For a little while, Kentucky kept pace. Then, with the scored tied 8-8 with 13:14 left in the first half, freshman Ashley Earley entered the game, in quick succession Earley missed a shot, grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled on the putback attempt. Then, after making both free throws, she stole the ball on ensuing possession and scored again on unassisted fast break. After a couple of baskets by Jenni Benningfield, Earley again grabbed her own offensive rebound and scored on the putback. By the time she left the game at the 7:19 mark, she had scored 10 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, and blocked a shot, lifting Vandy to a 27-17 lead.

Kentucky briefly cut the lead to single digits at 27-19, but Vandy countered with baskets from Anderson and Klimesova, and Kentucky never came close again. By the end of the first half, Vandy held a 15-point lead at 39-24.

The Commodores stifled any hope of a Kentucky comeback with a 7-0 all-Chantelle run to start the second half, giving Vandy a 46-24 lead, their biggest of the night. From there on, the Vanderbilt lead waved between 16 and 21 points, as Kentucky ratcheted up their defensive pressure, and as Vanderbilt subbed liberally from the bench. When the smoke cleared, Vanderbilt had claimed the 73-57 victory.

Vanderbilt was led in scoring by Chantelle Anderson with 28 points, including 12 for 16 from the floor. Zuzi Klimesova notched her seventh double double of the season with 10 rebounds (5 off the offensive glass) and 16 points. Ashley Earley scored 16 points off the bench and added 7 rebounds, a blocked shot and 2 steals in 20 minutes of play. Jenni Benningfield led the Commodores in assists with 4.

Kentucky was led in scoring by Shambrica Jones and Rita Adams with 12 points each, followed by SeSe Helm with 11. Four different Wildcats pulled down 3 rebounds each. Adams led in assists with 6.

For the game, the Commodores shot 52.8% from the field, compared to 42.6% for Kentucky. From the free throw line, Vanderbilt shot 73.6% (14/19) compared to 58.3% (7/12) for Kentucky. Vanderbilt dominated the boards with 37-21. Kentucky held the upper hand with turnovers, scoring 18 points off 13 Vanderbilt turnovers, while the Commodores scored only 7 points off 10 Kentucky turnovers.

With the victory, Vanderbilt's record improves to 23-6 overall (9-4 SEC), while Kentucky falls to 8-18 overall (1-12 SEC). Next action for Vanderbilt will be Sunday afternoon in Memorial Gym as the Commodores will honor seniors Jillian Danker and Zuzi Klimesova in their final regular season game in Memorial Gym. The game will tbe telecast on Fox at 2 p.m. CT.

POST GAME COMMENTS

The Press: What happened in the first 7 minutes?

Vanderbilt Head Coach Jim Foster: There was a shotblock problem. It malfunctioned. The game didn't get a flow until we got that squared away. It started and stopped three different times. The players reacted to that. They started and stopped. As soon as they got a flow, and the game got going, they played well.

The Press: Are you ever concerned about playing to the level of the competition?

Coach Foster: I thought we played terrific tonight. It was a game in which we had 13 turnovers, we shot 53%, had 37 rebounds to their 21 rebounds. Everything that I look at on this [box score] tells me that we played a pretty good basketball game.

The Press: You were getting the ball in early and often to Chantelle, was that your game plan going in.?

Coach Foster: No, our game plan is to take whatever the other team is giving us. I think we had the opportunity to find her early, and then Ashley started finding opportunities in the framework of our offense. We don't go in with a predetermined idea of what we are going to do. We go in and then have you guard us and see what are you going to give us.

The Press: Can you talk about what Ashley did off the bench?

Coach Foster: We're trying to retool her shot. She's been working very hard. She's trying to work out being a freshman.. Freshmen, when they hit this league, it's a whole other experience for them -- it's so competitive, so athletic, and no matter how much you tell them that it's going to be different, they don't comprehend that until they're actually in it, and then they start to react and respond. to what they see. We've seen Ashley start to come around in practice. We weren't surprised by her tonight.

The Press: She hit 12 of 17 points for you at one point. Can you talk about that?

Coach Foster: Again, it was within the framework. She took advantage of opportunities. She was aggressive and played to her strengths. She's a very strong player, she's an active rebounder on the offensive boards, and she can put the ball on the floor.

The Press: Ashley, coach said that you put in the ball on the floor. What were the opportunities you saw?

Ashley Earley: Just going hard to the basket. I think I got a couple of offensive rebounds right off the bat. . . . Our offense is set so you have certain opportunities, and that's one of the things I've been learning in practice -- where to find the opportunities.

The Press: Coach, this is the first time you have finished better than .500 on the road since 1995 in the SEC. Does that make a statement?

Coach Foster: Every win in this league is a statement no matter where it is. The fact that we finished on the plus side on the road is significant. We place a great deal of significance on it. I think our seniors take pride in the fact that they got us back into that territory.

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