Women's Hoops: Dores cruise past Duquesne, 78-56

Three Commodores scored in double figures to lead Vanderbilt to a 78-56 victory over the Duquesne Dukes in Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh on Monday night. Junior forward Jenni Benningfield led the Commodores with 21 points, tying her career high, followed by senior center Chantelle Anderson with 20, and senior point guard Ashley McElhiney with 13.

The Dukes were able to keep it fairly lose for much of the first half. With 4:29 remaining in the half, Vanderbilt held only a 4-point lead at 25-21. But from there on, Vandy spurted ahead finishing the half on a 13-4 run, including seven points from McElhiney, to build a 38-25 halftime lead.

Any hopes that the Dukes had of getting back into the game evaporated early in the second half, as the Commodore defense held Duquesne scoreless for the first five mnutes of the half, allowing the Vanderbilt lead to grow to 17 points. Even though Chantelle Anderson picked up her fourth foul shortly thereafter and headed to the bench, the Commodores continued to build their lead and led by 22-24 points for the remainder of the game.

With two minutes left in the game, Vanderbilt emptied the bench, and freshman point guard Erica Grimaldi took over the scoring duties as well as point guard duties, connecting on two field goals and sinking her two free throw opportunities for a career high six points for the game. When the final buzzer sounded, the score stood at 78-56 in favor of the Commodores.

Two Commodores notched double doubles for the night. Bennningfield pulled down 10 boards to go with her 21 points for her fifth double double of the season, and for good measure added four assists and three steals with only one turnover. McElhiney's 10 assists combined with her 13 points, also gave her a double double, her fifth of the season.. Hillary Hager, playing near her home town of Franklin, Pa, added 5 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals for the game.

Beth Friday led Duquesne with 14 points and 15 rebounds, followed by Aiga Bautre with 11. No other Dukes scored in double figures.

For the game, the Commodores shot 52% from the field, but only 24% (5 of 21) from 3-point range and 38% (3 of 8) from the line. Duquesne shot 38% from the field, 29% from 3-point range and 64% from the line. Vanderbilt held the upper hand on the boards, 34-30, and also had fewer turnovers with 11 compared to 20 for the Dukes.

With the win, the Commodores complete the non-conference portion of their schedule and improve to 10-3, while the Dukes fall to 7-5 on the season. SEC play opens Thursday night, but the Commodores have an open date, allowing them a little time to recover from their just-completed stretch of five games in ten days. Vanderbilt travels to Starkville, Miss. on Sunday for the SEC opener against Mississippi State.

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