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By David Dawson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Four games into the season, the Vanderbilt women have had four different leading scorers.
And there's a good chance that the list is going to keep expanding for the undefeated Commodores.
Freshman Rachel Bell led the way Monday afternoon, scoring a career-high 18 points during Vanderbilt's 75-57 win over St. Louis. Morgan Batey and Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau added 10 points apiece as the Commodores (4-0) once again showed that their offensive output can come from a wide variety of sources.
"We talk about our balanced scoring a lot," said Bell, the former star from Creek Wood High. "You really don't know who it might be for us. It could be Morgan, it could be Christa (Reed), it could be anybody."
The victory came before a large and enthusiastic crowd of 6,598 on Education Day at Memorial Gym. An estimated 4,000 school-aged children attended the game, and the young crowd was treated to a solid performance by the young Commodores, who have no seniors on the roster.
After enduring a slow start, Vanderbilt surged ahead midway through the first half, as Bell came off the bench to help ignite a 14-3 run that enabled the Commodores to flip a 16-11 deficit into a 25-19 lead at 5:43 mark of the first half. Vanderbilt never trailed again.
Bell finished 7-of-10 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. She became the eighth Vanderbilt player to have a double-digit scoring performance this season. The others have been: Batey, Caron-Goudreau, Marqu'es Webb, Paris Kea, Rebekah Dahlman, Kristen Gaffney and Christa Reed.
Batey led the team in scoring in the season-opener against Belmont (with 15 points), Marqu'es Webb led the way against Green Bay (with 13), and Rebekah Dahlman had team-high honors (18) against Wisconsin.
"The fact that we have so many options is great," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "And we really felt like that might be one of our strengths coming into the season."
The Commodore defense also shined in Monday's victory, limiting St. Louis to 31 percent shooting from the floor. The Billikens attempted a whopping 40 three-pointers -- which accounted for well over half of their 71 shots from the floor -- but didn't have much effectiveness, shooting just 27 percent (11-of-40) from long range.
The victory means the Commodores will now head to Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase with plenty of momentum. The eight-team tournament, which features defending national champion UConn, starts on Friday, with the Commodores facing Minnesota in the first round of three-day event.
"Being 4-0 is a great way to start the season and we are excited about the trip," said Bell, "but there's always room to get better."
Vanderbilt -- which overcame a 17-2 deficit in last Thursday's win at Wisconsin -- scored just six points in the first seven minutes against St. Louis. But Bell provided an immediate spark when she came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer at the 12:28 mark.
She added five more points -- a 3-pointer and a layup -- during Vanderbilt's 14-3 run later in the half that helped the Commodores establish control.
Vanderbilt eventually carried a 42-33 lead into the locker room, and then opened the second half with a 10-3 surge to push the advantage to 52-36 with 15:44 to play. St. Louis never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Vanderbilt had 10 players reach the scoring column. The list included six players who scored eight points or more, as balanced scoring continues to be customary for the Commodores.
"We have a lot of weapons," said Balcomb, "and that's certainly a positive for us. But right now, we just need to focus on our rebounding and defense."
Batey narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with a team-high nine rebounds to go with her 10 points. Caron-Goudreau finished four blocked shots and an assist during her 10-point outing for the Commodores, who outrebounded St. Louis, 41-33.