General Notes: The Commodores move to 10-4 with tonight's victory. Vanderbilt closes its non-conference schedule on Saturday, Jan. 5, at Princeton. The Commodores then open Southeastern Conference play next Thursday, Jan. 10, when Mississippi State visits Vanderbilt for a 7 p.m. CT tip.
Against the Bulls: With the win, the Commodores move to 3-0 all-time against South Florida. Tonight's game marked the first meeting between the two schools in Nashville. Both previous meetings occurred in Tampa, Fla., with the 2006 matchup being contested on the "neutral" court of the St. Pete Times Forum.
Lineup Changeup: As was the case after VU's previous three losses, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb juggled the starting lineup for tonight's contest. Freshman Hannah Tuomi made her first collegiate start, marking the first time this season that senior Liz Sherwood did not start in the post. Freshman Jence Rhoads also moved back into the starting lineup, replacing sophomore Jessica Mooney; Rhoads started the Commodores' first six games of the season before being replaced in the starting lineup prior to the Duke game by Merideth Marsh. Marsh made her eighth straight start of the year tonight, joining Rhoads in the backcourt for the first time this season. The other two starting spots remained unchanged, as junior Christina Wirth made her 48th consecutive start (dating back to the beginning of the 2006-07 season) and junior Jennifer Risper made her 30th consecutive start. The Commodores started two freshmen in the game for the first time since the 2003-04 season, when point guard Dee Davis and forward Carla Thomas were both in the lineup. That season, 33 of VU's 34 games featured a pair of freshmen in the lineup between Davis, Thomas, guard Cherish Stringfield and forward Katie Antony.
Halftime Lead: Despite a season-high 18 first-half turnovers, the Commodores took a 28-20 lead into the break. Vanderbilt's previous high for turnovers in a half was 17 at Clemson. Vanderbilt pulled down 31 rebounds in the first half, and held a plus-20 rebounding margin over the Bulls at intermission. The Commodores' previous season-high for rebounding margin in a game was plus-19 against Lipscomb. The teams combined to shoot 15-of-54 in the first half, though Vanderbilt was 4-of-5 from the three-point line -- VU's only first-half miss from behind-the-arc was an errant buzzer-beating effort by Risper.
A Run Gets It Done: The Commodores opened the second half on a 16-2 run over a period of six minutes.
Second Half Success: The Commodores scored only 28 points in the entire first half, but had doubled that point total by the 8:40 mark of the second half on a breakaway layup by Wirth.
Marsh On Target: Sophomore guard Merideth Marsh scored a career-high 19 points. She hit 5-of-5 three-pointers and 4-of-4 free throws. The five three's was also a career high for the Louisville, Ky., product.
Tuomi Terrific: Freshman forward Hannah Tuomi was one rebound shy of a double-double as she scored 11 points and pulled nine boards -- both career highs.