By David Dawson
It was only an exhibition game, and it won't go down in the record books. But for the Vanderbilt women, the numbers on the stat sheet were important. And impressive.
Spurred by Rachel Bell's 28-point effort, the Commodores stormed to a 96-32 victory over Clayton State in Saturday's exhibition contest at Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt made 12-of-15 attempts from 3-point range and shot 65 percent from the floor overall to breeze to the win in their final tune-up before next Sunday's regular-season opener against Mississippi Valley State.
"I am really pleased with how we played today -- and much more pleased than I was a couple of weeks ago after our closed scrimmage," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "We've made a lot of changes since then. ... Our players are now doing a lot of the things we are asking; we've just got to be committed to the fundamentals."
The game introduced the Vanderbilt fans to many of the new rules that have been implemented in the women's game this season, including the four-quarter format and the new bonus-foul situations. But the real story of the game was Bell.
The sophomore from Creek Wood High (Cumberland Furnace) finished 11-of-15 from the floor, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range. She also pulled down eight rebounds and had a pair of assists.
"She is an explosive player and her work ethic from this summer and this fall is great," said Balcomb. "So, her performance today was no surprise. This is what we see in practice every day."
Three other Vanderbilt players also reached double figures, including Vanderbilt newcomer Minta Spears. The transfer from Texas Tech, who was seeing her first live-game action with the Commodores, scored 11 points and dished out a team-high eight assists while committing just one turnover in 27 minutes of action.
"I struggled initially adjusting to an entire new program but I think this last week of practice I've had better practices," said Spears. "I've slowed down and understood my teammates and coaches better. Coach Balcomb always likes to say that it's a process -- so we're staying true to that. But today was awesome being out there. It was a lot of fun."
Christa Reed finished with 11 points, including going 3-of-3 from 3-point range, and Morgan Batey had 10 points and six rebounds. Kendall Shaw added eight points on 4-of-4 shooting, and Marqu'es Webb had seven points and seven rebounds.
Tierra Johnson finished with seven points to lead Clayton State.
Vanderbilt jumped out to a 25-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, and then continuously added to the advantage from there by holding Clayton State to single-digit scoring in each of the final three quarters. The Commodores outscored the Lakers 24-4 in the second quarter, 27-8 in the third and 20-9 in the fourth.
All 12 players on the Vanderbilt roster saw action in the game, and 11 different players reached the scoring column.
The Commodores also dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle, 47-22.
Vanderbilt now turns its full attention to next Sunday's season opener, when Mississippi Valley State visits Memorial Gym. The Commodores beat MVSU 63-37 last season.