Jenkins, Reed fuel Vanderbilt's season-opening win

Nov. 15, 2015

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Highlights | Balcomb Postgame | Jenkins & Shaw

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - From start to finish, Sunday's season opener was all Vanderbilt.

Setting the tone with a 30-0 run that started near the midway mark of the first quarter and spilled over into the early part of the second, the Commodores breezed to a 89-39 victory over Mississippi Valley State before a crowd of 2,264 at Memorial Gym.

Senior guard Jasmine Jenkins scored a career-high 24 points, going 9-of-12 from the field, and sophomore Christa Reed added a career-high 22 points for Vanderbilt (1-0), which owned a 26-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and continuously padded the advantage from there.

Morgan Batey finished with 13 points and five rebounds, and Kendall Shaw had six points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Mississippi Valley State (0-2) was led by Zemoria Jernigan with 17 points.

The victory extended a pair of streaks for the Commodores. They've now won 30 consecutive home openers (dating back to a loss to Texas Tech in their first home game of the 1985-86 season) and have won 10 straight openers overall (dating back to a 69-60 loss to Arizona State to begin the 2005-06 season). Vanderbilt improved to 4-0 in the all-time series against the Devilettes, including 63-37 win last season.

The Commodores are hoping Sunday's win will provide an early-season boost of momentum as they look to bounce back from last year, when they endured a rare losing record (15-16) and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

"It’s a process, but it was a big step today," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "It wasn’t a baby step, it was a big step."

The game marked the first regular-season contest played with the new rules that have been implemented in women's basketball this season, including the four-quarter format and the new bonus-foul situations. The Commodores obviously had no problems adjusting to the new wrinkles, as they seized control early and stayed in command all afternoon.

Vanderbilt closed the first quarter with 22-0 spurt to build a 26-4 lead, and then opened the second quarter with eight straight points to cap a 30-0 run. Vanderbilt's defense limited the Devilettes to just four field goals in the first half, and the Commodores owned a 44-8 lead at the break.

Mississippi Valley State, which had the lowest RPI ranking (349) in the country last year, shot just 16 percent from the floor in the first half.

Jenkins, a senior guard, scored 13 of her 24 points in the first half to help the Commodores get off and running. She said after the game that she has dedicated herself to being in a leadership role in her final season at Vanderbilt.

"It’s a part of being a senior," said Jenkins. "I’ve been in the gym a ton. My position and role have changed a little. I just bought in. I’m in with two feet and I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do. I could not care less about scoring. (But) if the team needs me to score, then that’s what I’ll do."

Mississippi Valley State (0-1), which dropped its season opener to Ole Miss 97-61 on Friday, shot just 24 percent from the floor for the game, and Vanderbilt forced the Devilettes into 25 turnovers.

All 10 players in uniform for the Commodores saw action in the game, and eight of them reached the scoring column.

Shaw, a redshirt junior who has been sidelined by injuries for the past two seasons, logged 16 minutes of playing time and had a pair of blocked shots to go with her six points and 10 rebounds.

"Being back on the court is the best experience ever," said Shaw. "I couldn’t have done this without my teammates. They've pushed me to get back on the court and be the best me that I can be."

Although the game was one-sided, it fell short of being Vanderbilt's biggest margin of victory in a season opener. The Commodores downed Austin Peay 97-30 in the first game of the 1988-89 season.

Vanderbilt now faces a pair of tough road games, traveling to Dayton on Wednesday and going to Green Bay on Nov. 21. The Commodores' next home game is Nov. 23, when they host Presbyterian at 11:30 a.m. for the second annual Education Day game at Memorial Gym.

NOTES: Vanderbilt's defense held Mississippi Valley State without a field goal from the 6:13 mark of the first quarter until the 6:48 mark of the second. … The Commodores dominated inside, outscoring MVSU 44-10 in the paint and winning the rebounding battle, 44-31. … Vanderbilt's bench outscored the MVSU bench 17-0.



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