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Highlights | Balcomb | Dahlman and Webb
By David Dawson
NASHVILLE -- The Vanderbilt women's basketball team hit a season-high seven 3-pointers on Monday night.
Problem was, the Commodores had a hard time scoring from anywhere else on the floor during their SEC game against No. 7/9 Tennessee.
Playing in front of lively crowd of 7,212 at Memorial Gym, Vanderbilt was limited to its lowest offensive output of the season while being saddled with a 57-49 loss to its in-state rivals.
Andraya Carter scored a game-high 19 points to help Tennessee (12-2, 2-0) win its eighth straight game. Ariel Massengale added 12 points despite going just 2-of-9 from the floor.
For Vanderbilt (8-6, 0-2), freshman Christa Reed scored a team-high 13 points and fellow freshman Khalèann Caron-Goudreau had 10.
Vanderbilt -- which came into the night averaging just 3.8 three-pointers per game -- finished 7-of-17 from 3-point range. But the Commodores were just 9-of-31 (29 percent) from inside the arc, and their 10-of-16 performance from the foul line (62 percent) didn't help either.
"(Tennessee) had more energy, more fight than we did," said redshirt freshman Rebekah Dahlman, who had eight points and four rebounds. "They are a good team. We're trying to find ourselves right now and put the pieces together, trying to find the roles."
The Commodores were hoping to continue their recent home-floor success against Lady Vols after beating them at Memorial Gym in two of the past three seasons and three of the past six. But this time, the Tennessee defense made sure there would be no upset.
The Lady Vols limited Vanderbilt to just 17 points in the first half, and held the Commodores to 33 percent shooting for the game.
"I have to give (Tennessee) a lot of credit," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "I think they did a great job, especially in the first half, taking things away from us. They were very physical, they switched a lot of things, denied a lot of things, and, to be honest with you, we were very out of sync because we didn't handle the physicality and we got frustrated. To be as young as we are, one of the toughest adjustments is to physicality and we looked like that tonight."
Granted, the Lady Vols weren't exactly red-hot, either -- shooting just 36 percent for the game -- but they found enough offense to keep the Commodores at bay.
Jordan Reynolds scored 11 points and Cierra Burdick scored 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Their strong performances -- coupled with the good work by Carter and Massengale -- helped Tennessee overcome a quiet night from star players Isabelle Harrison (the former Hillsboro standout was limited to three points) and Bashaara Graves (two points).
"I think the positive is that you want to do a good job on Graves and Harrison ... but we let everybody else beat us," said Balcomb. "They had other people step up -- four players in double figures -- (and it was) not just Carter but all of them. We gave them a lot of open looks and didn't execute our defense. As bad as our offense was, at times our defense was just as bad."
The Lady Vols did some solid work at the foul line, where they made 18-of-22 attempts. Tennessee also won the rebounding battle, 39-27.
Vanderbilt, which has dropped four of its past five games, made only six field goals in the opening 20 minutes, but the Commodores still found themselves within striking distance at the half, trailing just 25-17. Tennessee then opened the second half with a slow-paced 10-3 run to extend the advantage to 35-20 after a 3-pointer by Massengale with 14:40 remaining.
The Lady Vols still owned a 14-point cushion, 39-25, as late as the 8:40 mark of the second half, but Vanderbilt put together a late charge to make things interesting. The Commodores eventually trimmed the deficit to eight points, and had a chance to move even closer when Reed got free for a 3-pointer from the wing with 2:23 to go. But her shot was off the mark, and Tennessee never let Vanderbilt get closer than seven the rest of the way.
"We're a young team, but at the same time it's January," said sophomore Marqu'es Webb. "We have to show some maturity and some growth throughout the season. I think we need to be more consistent as a team, whether it's in practice or in a game. ... It will come. We've just got to stay positive and stick with it and we will be fine."
Vanderbilt visits LSU on Thursday.