The Vanderbilt women's basketball team used a blistering first-half shooting performance to defeat Western Illinois, 95-51, in action on Monday, November 14, at Memorial Gym. The Commodores improved to 2-0, while the Leathernecks fell to 1-1.
Vanderbilt's guards did what they do best, share the basketball. As a team, the Commodores dished out 28 assists, which is the most since distributing 32 helpers against Alabama in March 2006. Jasmine Lister alone had seven assists, matching her career-high set in the season-opener against Alabama A&M.
Lister led the way in scoring, as well, with 15 points. Tiffany Clarke had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Stephanie Holzer added 14 points and six rebounds. Clair Watkins joined the trio in double-figures with 10 points, while grabbing four rebounds. Elan Brown led the Commodores in rebounding for the second-straight time, grabbing nine boards.
Vanderbilt almost had six players in double-figures for the first time since January 2009, as Christina Foggie, Maggie Morrison and Gabby Smith all had nine points apiece. Gabby Smith added five assists in her first action this season (concussion).
As a team, the Commodores finished at 62.7% (37-59) from the field and 47.1% from three-point range. It marks the highest total field goal percentage for a Commodore team since February 8, 2009, when Vandy shot 64.1% (25-39).
Western Illinois was led by 12 points from Sadie Webb, while Lindsay Carroll added 10 off the bench. Michele Salvatori was impressive underneath, grabbing 10 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass.
The Commodores used an incredibly balanced approach in the first half to open a 55-17 lead. Clarke had 12 points while hitting all six attempts from the field. Lister and Holzer each added eight points, Morrison and Smith had seven while Foggie added six.
"We talked about starting off at a high level," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. "We've been competing in practice and we talked about carrying that over and forcing the other team to take a timeout before the first media timeout."
It marked the highest-scoring opening half for the Commodores since November 23, 2007, when they led Belmont 56-27 at the break in the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament. The Commodores went on to win that game 104-43. It also marked the first time Vanderbilt shot better than 60.0% from the field in a half since January 9, 2011, when they shot 63.2% (12-19) against Auburn. Vanderbilt was 63.6% (21-33).
The defense was noteworthy in the first half, as well. The Leathernecks' 17-point output in the opening stanza marked the first time Vanderbilt held an opponent to under 20 points in a half since February 13, 2011, when they held Tennessee to 15 points in the first half.
Balcomb was also pleased to have the full compliment of players at her disposal for the first time since early in preseason practice.
"It's good to see everybody and be able to play everyone off the bench," said Balcomb. "Gabby got tired quickly, but she still said she was fine. That's just who Gabby is."
The Commodores face a quick turnaround, as they return to action on Wednesday, November 16, when they host USC Upstate. Tipoff with the Spartans is set for 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Gym.