By David Dawson
NASHVILLE -- The Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament came to a close on Saturday in the exact way that head coach Melanie Balcomb wants to see every tournament end: With the Commodores holding the first-place trophy.
Buoyed by the play of tournament MVP Marqu'es Webb and a last-second defensive stop, the Commodores downed Ohio, 62-59, in the championship game of the two-day tourney at Memorial Gym.
Ohio (3-2) missed a pair of potential game-tying 3-pointers on its final possession -- including one at the buzzer -- and the Commodores (4-2) escaped with the victory to improve their all-time record to 30-0 in this event.
Webb finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for Vanderbilt, which has now won three consecutive games at home after suffering back-to-back road losses last week.
"In each of these three wins, we've been tested in the fourth quarter -- and we've responded better each time," said Balcomb. "That's certainly one of the things I am encouraged about."
Webb was joined on the All-Tournament team by Minta Spears, who scored a season-high 11 points, including a layup with 19 seconds remaining that gave Vanderbilt a three-point cushion. Spears had 14 assists and no turnovers in Friday's first-round win over Austin Peay.
For Ohio, Kiyanna Black scored a game-high 25 points, going 6-of-13 from 3-point range. Quiera Lampkins added 13 points and five rebounds. Both Black and Lampkins were named to the All-Tournament team.
Vanderbilt's Christa Reed finished in double figures with10 points, and Rebekah Dahlman added eight points and five rebounds.
The Commodores shot only 39 percent from the floor, but made up for it at the foul line, going 16-of-17 (94 percent), including converting their first 13 attempts of the game. The Bobcats, conversely, finished just 13-of-23 at the foul line, which proved to be a key stat in the tight contest.
"I kept thinking we were hurting ourselves by fouling so much, but I kept looking up and seeing them miss free throws," said Balcomb. "So that worked in our favor."
Vanderbilt took control of the contest early, putting together a 14-1 run in the first quarter to build an 18-5 lead with 2:27 left in the period. Dahlman, Reed and Spears each hit 3-pointers during the surge, and VU led 20-10 at the end of the quarter.
Ohio outscored the Commodores 17-13 in the second quarter and 15-14 in the third, but Vanderbilt never relinquished the lead. Ohio trimmed Vanderbilt's advantage to three points on four occasions in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, and ultimately pulled within one point when Black hit an off-balance 3-pointer with 56 seconds to go.
But Spears got loose for a layup on Vanderbilt's next possession for a 62-59 lead with 30 seconds to play, and the Commodores held on for the victory when the Bobcats missed twice from long range in final 20 seconds.
Ohio, which came in the game averaging 35 attempts per game from 3-point range, finished 8-of-24 from behind the arc. Vanderbilt was 6-of-14.
Vanderbilt collected 18 offensive rebounds in the game, and easily won the battle on the glass, 38-22.
The Commodores host Air Force on Monday night at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.