In Friday night's game, every ‘Dore played and scored, as point guard Jence Rhoads led the charge with 14 points, 7 assists and a career high 3 blocks.
"She's just playing both ends of the floor extremely well," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. "Jence's in great position to challenge shots. She's just very smart right now and she is making good decisions on offense. The way I coach at Vanderbilt, our point guard has a lot to do with our success and as Jence gets better, we're getting better. As she goes, we go, and she's going very well. She's like a little coach on the floor now."
Jence said guiding traffic and scoring when things aren't going the right way helps less experienced players relax. "It helps the freshmen be more stable and gain more confidence in what we're doing as a team. That will help them play a better game."
She also sees progress as the team moves toward more synchronized play. "We're not quite where we need to be, but progressing towards there."
Forward Hannah Tuomi, saying she's "back in the groove," hustled for 11 points as the only other Commodore in double figures in a balanced effort.
"I don't' necessarily have to score and do everything right as long as I get in there and work hard and do what the coaches ask. I'll still get buckets as long as I realize that pressure doesn't matter anymore."
Although the squad committed 23 turnovers, mostly in transition, Coach Balcomb saw enough ball pressure to be satisfied. "It's just really early. We're playing so many lineups and combinations that sometimes that's going to happen and especially in a game that we spread open. I think we need to communicate more. We're small so we know we have to be aggressive on the perimeter."
Balcomb also praised the energy of sophomore forward Jordan Coleman, a starter this season.
"I like her rebounding, I like her hustle. She's not playing everything perfect, but she's playing everything hard. She's giving us great energy and that's why we've been starting her. We need that energy to start games and start halves. As the cerebral part comes, she'll be getting better and better."
Vanderbilt shot 46.7% for the game. The Highlanders kept it close early in the first half, until the ‘Dores broke away from the fourth tie at 9-9 for an 11 point run, holding UC Riverside scoreless for 6:34. Vandy was up 38-18 at the half. The visitors outscored Vandy 42-37 in the second half.
Vandy was 6 for 18 in 3 point attempts as Merideth Marsh and Elan Brown each sank two each and Lauren Lueders and Gabby Smith nailed one apiece.
Next up Tuesday is St. Joseph's in Philadelphia, hometown of freshman Stephanie Holzer. The 6-4 center is sidelined indefinitely with an ankle injury. Her parents will host the team for dinner during the visit.