NASHVILLE – Sophomore Carla Thomas led all scorers with 23 points as the 22nd-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores snapped the Arkansas’ Lady Razorbacks win streak with a 78-43 win in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball at Memorial Gymnasium
Arkansas, 15-9, dropped to 3-8 in conference play while Vandy moved to 18-6 and 7-4 in league games.
Lady’Back head coach Susie Gardner warned of the power of Vanderbilt’s inside game earlier in the week, and the Commodores fulfilled the prediction as 6-3 Thomas and Ashley Early combined for 38 points. Vanderbilt scores 40 of its 78 points in the lane.
“Vanderbilt’s known as a great shooting team and tonight they just stepped up and hit shots,” Gardner said. “Their post players did a great job on the inside.”
The Lady’Backs had no answer for Vanderbilt’s size in the lane as the Commodores outrebounded Arkansas by 21, 41-20.
Vanderbilt also blistered the nets for 64.6%, a whopping 72.7% in the second half. Meanwhile, the Lady’Backs scored a season-low 43 points, tagged by a 22.2% first half.
“We got a lot of the same shots we’ve had in the past games, but it just wouldn’t fall tonight,” Sarah Pfeifer said.
Arkansas’ posts led the team with 13 points from Pfeifer and 11 from Danielle Allen. The Lady’Backs forced 24 turnovers from Vandy, but the defense couldn’t slow the Commodores’ shooting pace.
“We kept fighting tonight and we kept playing defense,” Gardner said. “From a defensive perspective, we did well. We can force turnovers, but once again we weren’t able to take advantage of those turnovers. We didn’t hit the shots.”
Vandy pushed its halftime lead to as many as 39, 72-33, with four minutes left in the game, but the contest was decided in the opening half.
Arkansas opened the game stone cold, but Vanderbilt turnovers prevented the Commodores from taking advantage. The teams stumbled through the first four minutes with only four points apiece.
Cherish Stringfield’s three-pointer at 15:38 broke the 4-4 tie and started a slow-motion scoring run by the Commodores.
The Lady’Backs’ inability to score a field goal after Pfeifer’s opening shot opened the door for the 9-0 VU run. Allen’s layup with 10:32 snapped the 1-of-12 start.
Early responded for Vandy with three straight field goals to push the lead to 13, 17-6.
Back-to-back buckets from Pfeifer brought Arkansas back within seven, 17-10, but the Commodores pulled away as Thomas found her touch inside. The 6-3 sophomore had eight of Vanderbilt’s 14-0 run to put the game away, 31-10, with three minutes left in the first half.
Vanderbilt shot 57.7% for the first half, heading to the locker room with a 37-14 lead.
Arkansas shot only 22.2% in the first, the worst single half since hitting only 20% in the final period at Auburn, and the 14 points tied the low mark for a SEC game set against South Carolina in 1993.
The Lady’Backs did not hit a three-pointer in the game, missing 18 attempts. It was the first time since Jan. 23, 1993, against Kentucky for the Lady’Backs to not score a three-pointer.
The Commodores got 15 points and 11 boards from Earley, while Abi Ramsey had 11 points.