NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vanderbilt women's basketball team continued its early dominance Friday night in its second and final exhibition game, securing an early lead to beat Love and Basketball, 83-74.
Senior Christina Wirth led all scorers with 20 points. Freshman Tia Gibbs once again came off the bench to contribute to the 'Dore effort with 17 points shooting 3-for-5. Love & Basketball was led by former St. John's University star Danielle Rainey with 17 points and former Cal State Fullerton forward Charlee Underwood, who went 3-for-5 scoring 16 points.
The 'Dores jumped out to a 9-0 lead, keeping Love & Basketball scoreless until nearly five minutes into the contest. Though only playing seven minutes in the first half, Gibbs led all scorers with 10 points, helping Vanderbilt take a 45-31 lead into halftime.
"I like coming off the bench," Gibbs said, "to give the starters a break. This (college basketball) is way tougher than high school. In high school, there was more pressure to score. Now I play a different role, there's no pressure. Everyone scores, so it's not all one person."
The Commodores struggled at the beginning of the second half, allowing Love & Basketball to inch within one point.
"We played in spurts, good ones and bad ones. We just lost focus. In the first half, defense was where it needed to be and caused opportunities for offense to be great," Head Coach Melanie Balcomb noted. "In the second half, the defense was dictated by the miscues on offense. You just can't click it on and off."
Seniors Wirth and Jennifer Risper led the Commodores back, scoring five quick points collectively to widen the lead at the eight minute mark. Ashlee Bridge cemented the Commodores' lead with a crucial 3-pointer to extend the Commodore lead by eight with 7:30 to go.
"I think we played in spurts. We need to come together, pick each other up, and get back to a faster pace, " Gibbs commented.
Love & Basketball had a balanced attack with five players in double-digit points. Former California standout Amber White had three steals in the contest, while Risper led the 'Dores with five steals.
"This was a great game to learn from," Balcomb remarked.
"I think this game was a great learning experience," Gibbs echoed. "Coach opened our eyes on what we need to do as a team."
The Commodores return to Memorial Gym on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. where they open regular season play against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.