By David Dawson
NASHVILLE -- Morgan Batey has found her shooting touch -- and her teammates seem to be following her lead.
Batey went 7-of-8 from the floor on Thursday night and finished with a team-high 16 points to help lead the Commodores to a 74-51 non-conference win over NCAA Division II member Alabama-Huntsville at Memorial Gym.
The Vanderbilt victory, which came on the heels' of Sunday's 78-62 win over previously unbeaten Mississippi State, pushed the Commodores to 10-7 on the season. The contest was an exhibition game for Alabama-Huntsville (8-8).
All 10 of Vanderbilt's available players saw action, and they each reached the scoring column. Freshman Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau scored 10 points in the win, and Heather Bowe and Marqu'es Webb added nine each.
The Commodores shot 60.5 percent from the floor, marking the second straight game in which they have topped the 60-percent mark after doing so only once in the first 15 games.
Batey has gone 14-of-17 from the floor -- a sizzling 82 percent -- in the past two games. She was 7-of-9 and matched her career high with 18 points in Sunday's win over Mississippi State.
Against Alabama-Huntsville, she not only shoot the ball effectively, but also had four rebounds, four assists and a team-high five steals.
“Morgan has become a player," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "She is playing so many positions for us and she has been getting a good understanding of what it takes to be a good basketball player, inside and out.”
Batey's two-game surge comes directly after a two-game slump for the junior guard, who was held scoreless during Vanderbilt's losses to Tennessee and LSU.
It is perhaps no coincidence that those two games were also the worst two offensive performances of the season for the Commodores, who shot just 34 percent from the floor during the two losses and were held to 16 field goals in each game.
Now, though, the shooting percentages are headed in the other direction.
The Commodores made 15-of-22 shots (68 percent) in the first half of Thursday's game while building a 41-25 lead. Vanderbilt shot 52 percent (11-of-21) in the final 20 minutes while maintaining a comfortable lead. The Commodores never allowed the Chargers to get closer than 17 points after the opening minute of the second half.
Freshman guard Paris Kea -- who finished with five points, four rebounds, one steal and team-high six assists -- said the Commodores were not rattled by the two-game losing skid earlier this month, and that this past two games have shown their resilience.
"It didn’t shake our confidence at all," said Kea. "We used it as motivation, and we knew we had to work on our weaknesses. We figured it out and we worked on it."
Josi Saunders led UAH with 16 points and her sister Dina added 15 for the fiesty Chargers, who made 8-of-17 shots from 3-point range. Former Brentwood star Halle Jarnagin had two points, one rebound and a team-high five assists. Her sister, Sara, who also starred at Brentwood, saw three minutes of action.
Vanderbilt got off to a slow start, and trailed 9-4 in the opening four minutes. The game remained tight through the midway mark of the first half, with the Commodores owning an 18-15 lead.
But Vanderbilt broke the game open with a 16-0 run that featured six different players providing points. The surge allowed the Commodores to build a 36-17 lead with 4:36 left in the half, and Vanderbilt maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
The Commodores out-rebounded the Chargers, 28-14 and outscored them in the paint, 32-18. Vanderbilt's bench also outscored the UAH reserves, 26-13.
Vanderbilt gets back into SEC play on Sunday, traveling to Georgia.