Box Score | Russell's Photos | Highlights | Balcomb
By David Dawson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There was one glaring stat from Sunday's game that essentially told the story: Vanderbilt attempted more free throws than Florida, but the Commodores converted fewer than the Gators while suffering a 67-58 defeat at Memorial Gym.
Florida, which came into the day ranked fourth in the SEC in free-throw shooting at 69.1 percent, went 18-of-19 from the line (94.7 percent), including 15-of-16 in the second half. The Commodores, conversely, had 20 attempts from the line, but converted only 13 (65 percent).
The missed chances at the foul line sabotaged Vanderbilt's second-half comeback bid and enabled the Gators (11-11, 3-6) to leave Nashville with a victory over Vanderbilt (12-10, 3-6) for the second straight year.
Vanderbilt had just nine players available for the game. Freshman Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau could not play due to illness, and three others -- Khalèann Caron-Goudreau, Kendall Shaw and Christa Reed -- continue to be sidelined by injuries.
Florida's Kayla Lewis finished 18 points and 11 rebounds and three of her teammates also reached double figures: Cassie Peoples had 11 points, and Carlie Needles and January Miller added 10 each.
Vanderbilt sophomore Marqu'es Webb had her second double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds -- season-highs in both categories -- but it wasn't enough to prevent the Commodores from suffering a stinging loss.
Head coach Melanie Balcomb said in her postgame press conference that her did team did not play with amount of confidence that it takes to win SEC games.
"(Some of our miscues today) came out of hesitating," said Balcomb. "And that's what I mean about the players not taking the initiative. ... I think, right now, we've got to mature as individuals."
Rebekah Dahlman finished with 13 points and six assists for Vanderbilt. Freshman Rachel Bell had 12 points for the Commodores, who trailed 32-22 at the half after shooting just 28 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
Florida then opened the second half with a 5-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Peoples, to take its largest lead of the game, 37-22, with 17:29 to go.
Vanderbilt, however, was able to fight its way back into the game before the midway mark of the second half. Fueled by the strong work of Webb in the paint, the Commodores generated a 16-6 run to trim Florida's lead to 43-38 with 10:14 to go. Webb scored five points during the surge, which was ignited by a Morgan Batey layup and was capped by a 3-pointer from Dahlman.
But just when it appeared the teams were headed toward a tight finish, the Gators were able to rebuild a comfortable cushion, using a 9-1 run to push the lead to 52-39 with 5:50 to go. The pivotal run, fittingly, featured five free throws by Florida, along with baskets by Lewis and Miller.
From there, the Gators secured the victory with a string of successful free throws.
Vanderbilt, which out rebounded Florida 29-26, hosts Ole Miss on Thursday and host Kentucky next Sunday.