The Vanderbilt women had a tough start and a rough finish on Sunday during a 91-63 road loss to rival Tennessee.
The Commodores (10-10, 0-7), who dropped their ninth straight game, were outscored 30-12 in the first quarter and were down 56-29 at the half. Vanderbilt used a late surge in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 15 points, but the Lady Vols (12-7, 3-3) finished strong, outscoring Vanderbilt 25-12 in the final 10 minutes.
Tennessee has now won seven straight match-ups against Vanderbilt, and the Commodores fell to 0-32 all-time on the Lady Vols' home floor.
Tennessee made 13-of-20 shots (65 percent) from the floor in the first quarter. The Lady Vols opened the game with a 10-2 run, pushed the lead to 18-5 near the midway mark of the quarter, and owned a 25-7 advantage after a 3-pointer by Jaime Nared with 3:47 left in the period.
"Tennessee set the tone from the opening tip," said head coach Stephanie White. "That's what great teams do -- and Tennessee is a great team."
Diamond DeShields scored a game-high 23 points for the Lady Vols, and Alexa Middleton came off the bench to score 19. Nared added 17 points and Mercedes Russell had 15 points and nine rebounds in just 22 minutes of action.
Freshman Erin Whalen finished with 13 points, four rebounds, and three assists for the Commodores. Senior Marqu'es Webb had 13 points and seven rebounds, and freshman Kayla Overbeck had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Tennessee shot 57 percent from the floor, making 20-of-35 attempts, while storming out to the 56-29 halftime lead. It was the most points the Commodores have surrendered in one half this season. Tennesse was 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 12-of-15 from the foul line.
Vanderbilt trailed 61-33 after a pair of free throws by Nared with 7:13 remaining in the third quarter. But the Commodores closed the period with an 18-5 run -- including a 12-2 spurt over the final 4:15 -- to trim the margin to 15 points, 66-51. Whalen had seven points during the surge, including a 3-pointer.
DeShields then went to work for Tennessee, scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter to spark a 12-4 run than enabled the Lady Vols to push the lead to 78-55 with 5:02 to play.
Vanderbilt hosts Alabama on Thursday.