Vanderbilt 73 Syracuse 65

Vanderbilt survived a late Syracuse rally and foul trouble by Chantelle Anderson to earn a 73-65 victory over the Orangewomen Tuesday night in Manley Field House in Syracuse. With Anderson in foul trouble much of the game, junior forward Jenni Benningfield led the way with 19 points and 8 rebounds.

Syracuse took their first and only lead of the game on an opening 3-pointer by Julie McBride. But the Commodores shot the lights out in the first minutes of the game, hitting 7 of their first 9 shots from the field to build a 19-9 lead just six minutes into the game.

But trouble was just around the corner. Anderson picked up her second foul with 13:35 left in the half and headed for the bench. Vanderbilt held the lead without her, and when she returned six minutes late to give Jenni Benningfield a rest, the Commodores led 26-15. But less than two minutes, Anderson was whistled for an offensive foul and went to the bench for the remainder of the half.

At that point, Vanderbilt still had a 9-point lead at 26-17. But with Anderson on the bench again, Syracuse went on a 13-2 run, capped by two free throws following a technical foul on Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, to tie the score at 30-30 with 2:11 left in the first half. But the Commodores staved off the attack with some timely foul shooting by Hillary Hager and Ashley Earley and held a slim 37-34 lead at halftime.

After halftime, the Commodores took the court with a vengeance, rolling off an 11-0 run over the first four minutes of the half to take a 14-point lead at 48-34. Just as things were looking good for Vandy, however, Anderson picked up her fourth foul, and once again headed for the bench with 15:31 left.

For quite a while, Vanderbilt held their ground. When Syracuse first cut the lead to single digits, Abi Ramsey countered with a 3-pointer, and the next time, Ashley McElhiney did the same thing. With 5:27 left in the half, Hillary Hager's 3-pointer restored Vanderbilt's lead to 14 points at 64-50.

Syracuse once again cut the lead to single digits at 64-55 with 4:25 remaining, and Anderson returned to the game, but the Orangewomen were nonetheless able to keep chipping away. Then with 2:10 left in the game, Anderson picked up her fifth foul and was slapped with a technical. Julie McBride hit the awarded free throws to cut Vandy's lead to 5 with 2:10 remaining. Soon after, a basket by Shannon Perry cut the Commodores' lead to just three points at 66-63 with 1:59 left.

In the final minutes of the game, Ashley McElhiney, Hillary Hager, Tia Battle, Ashley Earley, and Jenni Benningfield were on the floor for Vandy. With 1:25 left, Vandy narrowly averted disaster on a bad pass from Battle, but in a scramble on the floor, Tia managed to steal it back and call time out before Julie McBride could tie up the ball.

Then, after the timeout, Battle grabbed the offensive rebound of a missed shot by Benningfield and tried to tip it in. When it wouldn't fall, Earley got yet another offensive rebound, put it up and got the basket and the foul. After she completed the 3-point play, on the next trip down the court, Benningfield pulled down a defensive rebound which forced Syracuse to begin fouling. Down the stretch, McElhiney hit 4 of 5 free throws to seal the Vanderbilt victory at 73-65.

Vanderbilt was led in scoring by Jenni Benningfield with 19 points, followed by Chantelle Anderson and Ashley Earley with 11 each, and Hillary Hager with 10. Benningfield was also leading rebounder with 8, followed by Earley with 6. Ashley McElhiney dished out 11 assists, and every Commodore starter had at least two steals, led by Hager with 5.

Syracue was led in scoring by freshman Tierra Jackson with 16, followed by Julie McBride with 15, Rochelle Coleman with 12, and Shannon Perry with 10.

For the game, Vanderbilt shot 46% from the field (33% from 3-point range) while holding Syracuse to 37% (29% from 3-point range). Rebounds were dead even at 37-37. Syracuse committed 19 turnovers compared to Vanderbilt's 20. It's worth noting, however, that the Commodores had 14 first half turnovers, but only 6 in the second half.

Vanderbilt next returns home for the First Tennessee Tournament on Saturday, November 30. In the first game Vanderbilt plays Youngstown State at 1 p.m. followed by Central Michigan versus Harvard at 3 p.m. The consolation game will be held on Sunday at noon, followed by the championship game at 2 p.m. Top Stories