VU exacts revenge on Ole Miss

Jan. 30, 2011

Box Score |  Quotes |  Notes |  Howell's Photos  | Season Stats

Game Highlights  |  Balcomb, Players Press Conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Earlier this season, Vanderbilt saw an 18-point advantage evaporate before its eyes at Ole Miss, but on Sunday with the largest home crowd of the season looking on the Commodores weren't about to let another large first-half lead against the Rebels slip out of their grasps. Instead, the Commodores kept their foot on the gas in the second half and earned a 71-42 victory over Ole Miss at Memorial Gym.

Vanderbilt (14-7, 5-3 SEC) led by 20 at the half after leading by as many 22 in the first half and never let Ole Miss (9-11, 2-6 SEC) get within 20 points again as the Commodores won their 14th in a row at home over Ole Miss and improved to 11-0 at home for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

The Commodores did it with defense and offense on Sunday. Defensively, Vanderbilt held Ole Miss to 42 points on 25.4% shooting. Both marks were the lowest by a Vanderbilt opponent this season. In fact, the 42 points were the fewest by an SEC opponent since the Commodores held Arkansas to 34 points on Jan. 28, 2007.

"We played defense," Head Coach Melanie Balcomb said. "It was a different mind set. It was nothing different strategy wise. It was our effort. We played smarter, we played tougher, and we communicated better."

Offensively, the story was the play of Angela Puleo, who took advantage of just her second start of the season. The junior guard hit 6-of-9 three-pointers to finish with a season-high 20 points. Elan Brown also had the second double-double of her career and season, finishing with 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

After losing at Kentucky last Sunday, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb decided to implement her ninth starting lineup of the season following a week of intense practices. The change paid dividends for the Commodores, who posted their largest margin of victory over an SEC foe since also winning by 29 over Alabama in 2008.

"We had a week to prepare," Balcomb said. "(Angela) earned the start just like Tiffany Clarke earned the start. I was going to start who earned it in practice this week. We had a long week after a poor performance at Kentucky and the lineup was going to be changed."

The game featured three lead changes in the first two minutes of play, but the game would quickly shift in Vanderbilt's favor. With the game tied at seven, a three-pointer by Puleo triggered a 24-2 run to give Vanderbilt a 31-9 lead with 4:02 to play. The run proved to be too much for Ole Miss to overcome the second time around.

Vanderbilt would finish the half with a 20-point advantage, 35-15, after holding Ole Miss to just 25.0% shooting. The 15 first-half points were the fewest by a VU opponent this season.

The Rebels started the game 3-of-5 from the floor, but during one stretch of the first half, Ole Miss made just 1-of-17 attempts. During that stretch, Ole Miss misfired on 11 straight shots.

Stephanie Holzer scored eight straight at one point during Vanderbilt's run, but the story of the half was Puleo, who finished with 14 first-half points and made 4-of-5 threes to start the game.

Vanderbilt matched a season high with 49 rebounds. In addition to Brown's 11 rebounds, Hannah Tuomi added 10 rebounds. Tiffany Clarke finished with 10 points and seven rebounds and Jence Rhoads scored 11 points.

The game was played in front of a season-best crowd of 5,862 in what was the team's annual Jam the Gym promotion, where tickets were $1.

Vanderbilt will continue its homestand Thursday when the Commodores host LSU at 7 p.m. The game will air on SportSouth and can be heard live on 560 AM in Nashville.



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