For the first ten minutes of the game, it looked as if the game would have a different ending. Vanderbilt's defensive intensity to start the game led to numerous Tennessee turnovers, which in turn led to Vanderbilt points. Two steals and fast breaks by Tia Battle helped to build a 16-point Commodore lead at 25-9.
But Vanderbilt was unable to keep it up. Senior center Chantelle Anderson, who had scored eight points in Vanderbilt's early run, fell awkwardly and dislocated the big toe on her right foot. Anderson left the game for about five minutes and was able return but was unable to run at full speed for the remainder of the game.
In the meantime, Tennessee chipped away at the deficit, thanks in part to a pair of 3-pointers from Kara Lawson. By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the Lady Vols had climbed back into the game and trailed by only three points at 37-34.
The Lady Vols not only continued, but also accelerated, their comeback in the second half with a 13-0 run, with 10 of those points coming from Shanna Zolman. From there on, Vanderbilt struggled to trim the Tennessee lead in single digits. A pair of free throws from Ashley McElhiney cut the lead to 71-62 with 3:36 left, but the Commodores couldn't come any closer, and by the end of the game, the Lady Vols had restored their lead to 14 points at 81-67.
Vanderbilt was lead in scoring by Chantelle Anderson with 21 points, followed by Ashley McElhiney with 16. Hillary Hager was leading rebounder with 8, and McElhiney dished out 10 assists for her seventh double double of the season.
Tennessee was led by Kara Lawson with 26 points, followed by Shanna Zolman with 20. Shyra Ely was leading rebounder with seven, and Loree Moore had five assists.
For the game, Vanderbilt shot 50% from the field, falling from a 61% clip in the first half to 39% in the second. Tennessee shot 56% for the game. Vanderbilt shot 7 of 12 from 3-point range for 58%, while Tennessee was 11 for 18, for 61%. From the line, Vanderbilt was 6 of 8 for 75%, while Tennessee was 12 of 19 for 63%.
In the first half, Vanderbilt out-rebounded Tennessee 13-10, but Tennessee more than made up the difference in the second half to hold the rebounding edge for the game at 31-25. Both teams had 19 turnovers, with Vanderbilt scoring 27 points off the Lady Vols' turnovers, and Tennessee scoring 25 points off Vanderbilt's.
With the loss, Vanderbilt falls to 13-7 overall (3-4 SEC) while Tennessee improves to 18-3 overall (7-0 SEC). Next action for Vanderbilt is a home game against Alabama Thursday night in Memorial Gym.