By David Dawson
ATHENS, Ga. -- After two hot-shooting performances, the Vanderbilt women were cooled down by one of the nation's best defensive teams.
And foul troubles only compounded things for the Commodores.
Limited to 40 percent shooting from the field, Vanderbilt was saddled with a 64-53 road loss to No. 16/18 Georgia on Sunday afternoon.
Georgia's Shaconia Barbee scored all of her team-high 14 points in the second half, and she was one of four Lady Bulldogs (16-3, 4-2) to reach double figures. Georgia -- which entered the day ranked fourth in country in points allowed per game (50.6) -- improved to 11-0 at home this season, and stretched its overall winning streak at Stegeman Coliseum to 17 games.
Rebekah Dalman led Vanderbilt (10-8, 1-4) with 17 points and Marqu'es Webb had 11. Dahlman finished 6-of-8 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
The Commodores, facing a ranked opponent for the fourth time in five SEC games, stayed within striking distance for much of the afternoon, and trailed 39-36 with 11:14 remaining in the second half. But Vanderbilt ultimately couldn't overcome the foul problems that caused Dahlman and Webb to sit out for lengthy stretches in the second half.
"I actually liked our fight today," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "I liked a lot of things. We are who we are right now. We struggle with pressure. Tonight our only scorers for a while were Rebekah and Marqu'es, and then Rebekah got in (foul) trouble just not being very smart. ... She's going to have to be smarter because that stretch that she didn't play really hurt us."
Krista Donald finished with 13 points for Georgia, and Merritt Hempe and Majorie Butler added 11 each.
The Commodores entered the day hoping to extend a two-game surge during which they had shot better than 60 percent from the floor while posting wins over Mississippi State and Alabama-Huntsville. But Georgia played its typical brand of intense defense, forcing 23 turnovers.
The Bulldogs also made the most of their chances at the free throw line, finishing 24-of-30 (80 percent). Vanderbilt was 10-of-16 (62 percent) at the line.
Those numbers proved to be a pivotal element during a game in which both teams finished 19-of-47 from the floor.
"We go after it for 40 minutes," said Balcomb. "We have to work smarter, not harder. That's a good problem to have. We have a young team. We certainly played better than we did at LSU. ... That's what we're working on, we're just trying to get better every game whether it's home or away just improve."
Vanderbilt trailed 29-24 at the end of an intense first half that featured four ties and four lead changes.
The Commodores trimmed Georgia's lead to one point on three occasions in the first five minutes of the second half, and trailed only 39-36 after Webb scored in the paint with 11:14 to go. But Georgia put together a 10-2 run over the next seven-plus minutes to take a 49-38 lead after a tip-in by Merritt Hempe with 4:11 remaining. Georgia then hit enough free throws down the stretch to remain in control, never allowing VU to get closer than seven points.
Vanderbilt, which won the rebounding battle 34-29, hosts Arkansas on Thursday.
(Photo by Sean Taylor)