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Vaughn’s 20 not enough to hold off #17 Vanderbilt

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Vaughn’s 20 not enough to hold off #17 Vanderbilt

GREENVILLE, SC – A season high 20 points from Rochelle Vaughn wasn’t enough for the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks to complete the upset of the 17th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores, 79-60. In spite of dramatic improvement over the two team’s first meeting, Arkansas, 16-13, closed the regular season and awaits selection Sunday on March 13 for the post-season. “There was no way this was a 19-point game,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “We played the first half so much better than we did in Nashville, and we played with them almost the entire game.” The overwhelming favorite, Vanderbilt, 21-6, beat Lady’Backs by 35 just over two weeks ago. “We have shown such great improvement this year with all the adversity,” Gardner said. “We were much better, but we made some key errors at the end that cost us a chance.” Ashley Early led all scorers for Vandy with 21 points and 15 rebounds as the Commodores dominated the glass for a 46-25 advantage. “She (Early) is one of the hardest players in the league to guard, and she was working hard to get to the ball,” Sarah Pfeifer said. “I think the offensive rebounds by Early, and their rebounds off free throws were a big key to the game,” Gardner added. At the Bi-Lo Center, Arkansas held second half leads and limited Vanderbilt’s high-powered for 35 minutes before the Commodores finally shook off the Lady’Back defense for a 10-0 run to open up a six-point game into the final margin. Vaughn gave Arkansas its first lead of the game with a three-pointer to open the second half, 33-32, to tie her season and conference game best with 17. “Ro’s offense kept us in the game at times, and she’s had two good games here at the tournament,” Gardner said. The teams traded leads for the next six minutes until the Commodores went on a 7-1 run to take a 44-38 lead. Arkansas kept pace, and got a break when Thomas picked up her fourth foul. The Lady’Backs were unable to take advantage, and when Pfeifer received her fourth, Vandy pushed the lead to nine, 61-52. Arkansas made dramatic improvement in the first half over the two team’s regular season meeting. The Lady’Backs went into intermission down by only two points, 32-30, and had two chances in the final minute to tie. At Nashville, Vandy held a 37-14 lead at half. Vanderbilt opened up a 12-3 lead as the Lady’Backs hit only one of their first six field goals. Allen took the ball inside against Thomas with 15:36, and the Vandy sophomore went down in a heap and was helped off the court. Arkansas responded with an 8-2 burst to erase the Commodore’s early advantage and trim the lead to three, 14-11. The teams traded buckets before Thomas returned to the game five minutes after her injury. With Pfeifer and Allen starting slow, Vaughn took over the Arkansas offense. The junior scored nine straight points for the Lady’Backs to keep pace with Vandy and scored 12 of Arkansas’ first 20 points. Everything came to a halt for a second time in the first half after a Thomas layup made it 26-20 when the Bi-Lo Arena scoreboard locked up. Minutes later the game flow was interrupted by Arkansas’ defensive pressure held Vandy to a near-season low from the field for most of the first half, allowing the Lady’Backs to tie the game at 30-30 on a short jumper by Vaughn with 1:21 in the half. Pfeifer fouled out of the game with 16 points as Arkansas’ only other player in double digits. Vandy had two more besides Earley in double digits with 14 from Katie Antony and 11 from Thomas.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)