Women's Hoops: Commodores rout Holy Cross, 86-54

Six Commodores scored in double figures as Vanderbilt bounced back from Thursday night's loss to Louisville with an easy 86-54 victory over Holy Cross Saturday at Memorial Gym.

The Crusaders took an early 3-0 lead on a three-pointer by Liz O'Connor and for a few minutes were able to stay close. However, with Holy Cross leading 5-4 four minutes into the game, Ashley McElhiney sank a jumper as the shot clock was about to expire to give Vanderbilt a 6-5 lead, and baskets from Jenni Benningfield and Chantelle Anderson increased the lead to 10-5 at the first media timeout.

By then the handwriting was beginning to appear on the wall. After the timeout, Vanderbilt went on a 27-7 run over the next ten minutes with the Commodores scoring from all over the court. Benningfield scored on a fast break initiated by Anderson's defensive rebound, Anderson couldn't be stopped in the paint, and Hillary Hager, Abi Ramsey, Tia Battle, and McElhiney all sank three-pointers during the run. By the end of the half, the Commodores held a 25-point lead at 47-22.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first half. The first five minutes of the half featured six straight points from Anderson, sandwiched between three-pointers by Ramsey off the fast break and Hager in the halfcourt offense.

By then, the Vanderbilt lead had passed 30 points, and it never fell below 30 after that. A pair of made free throws by Hager with 1:42 left in the game gave the Commodores their biggest lead of the night at 86-50, and Vanderbilt Coach Melanie Balcomb cleared the bench. A couple of Holy Cross baskets ended the scoring for the night at 86-53.

Saturday was Fan Appreciation Day in Memorial Gym with the first two thousand fans received a life-size Chantelle Anderson growth chart poster, so it was only fitting that Anderson would lead Vanderbilt in scoring with 20 points. Hillary Hager followed with 15, Ashley McElhiney had 12, Jenni Benningfield and Abi Ramsey had 11 each, and Tia Battle had 10. Hager was leading rebounder by 6, followed by Benningfield, Anderson, and Battle with five each. McElhiney dished out ten assists for her fourth double double of the season, followed by Hager with six. Anderson blocked five shots.

Holy Cross was led in scoring by Katie O'Keefe with 10 points. No other Crusader scored in double figures. O'Keefe and Lisa Andrews were leading rebounders for Holy Cross with five each.

For the game, Vanderbilt shot 58% from the field (46% from 3-point range) and 69% from the free throw line, compared to 34% from the field (39% from 3-point range) and 87% from the line for the Crusaders. Vanderbilt had only 13 turnovers compared to 24 for Holy Cross. Twelve of the Crusader turnovers were steals by Vanderbilt, with five Commodores getting at least two teals. Despite their height advantage, Vanderbilt was out-rebounded by the Crusaders 37-25. Seventeen of the Holy Cross rebounds were offensive, while the Commodores pulled down only seven offensive boards.

With the win, Vanderbilt improves to 9-3 on the season, while Holy Cross falls to 6-5, with four of those losses coming against ranked teams. Next Vanderbilt travels to Pittsburg to play Duquesne, the fifth game in a grueling ten-day stretch for the Commodores to complete the non-conference schedule. SEC play begins next weekend with a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville.

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Photos of Chantelle Anderson, Ashley McElhiney, Hilary Hager, Jenni Benningfield, and Abi Ramsey by Micah Miller for VandyMania.

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