The victory, however, was marred early in the game when senior point
guard Ashley McElhiney fell to the court in obvious pain and subsequently
left the game with a severe high ankle sprain. Freshman walk-on point
guard Erica Grimaldi took over the point guard duties for the remainder
of the game.
For most of the first half the game was
close. A couple of Kentucky 3-pointers from Sara Potts and Rita Adams
for Kentucky and a layup and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Chantelle
Anderson put the score at 6-5 before a fastbreak by Adams gave the
Wildcats an 8-5 lead with 17:59 remaining.
McElhiney's injury occurred as she was bringing the ball up the court
following Adams' layup. Grimaldi entered the game and notched her first
assist shortly afterwards when Hillary Hager scored on an inbounds
play, and shortly afterwards a basket by Jenni Benningfield gave Grimaldi
her second assist and the Commodores their first lead of the night at
9-8 at the 16:37 mark.
Then, for the next twelve minutes, the
teams battled neck and neck, with eight ties and seven lead changes.
With six minutes left in the half and the Commodores holding a slim
one-point lead at 25-24, senior center Chantelle Anderson picked up her
second foul of the game and went to the bench for the remainder of the
half, leaving Vanderbilt with both of the seniors on the bench.
But the rest of the team proved up to the task. A layup by Benningfield
on backdoor cut with an assist from Grimaldi tied the game for the last
time at 30-30 with 3:43 left in the half.
But from there on, it was all
Vanderbilt, as the Commodores grabbed every rebound for the rest of the half
and capitalized on every possession, scoring in a variety of ways.
Benningfield and Hager both scored on drives, Hager scored on an offensive
rebound and a putback and also sank one of a pair of awarded free
throws, and sophomore guard Tia Battle scored on a fastbreak following a
steal by Hager. The 9-0 run gave the Commodores a 39-30 halftime lead.
Coming out of the locker room, for the
first two minutes the teams traded a couple of baskets to put the score
at 44-34. But then the Commodores held the Wildcats scoreless for ten
minutes as Vanderbilt when on a 20-0 run to build a 30-point lead at
64-34 before a 3-pointer by Adams broke the long Kentucky scoring drought.
From there on, the Wildcats never managed to cut the Vanderbilt lead to
less than 26 points, and with 3:33 left, the Commodores held their
biggest lead of the night at 77-42. Over the next few minutes, Vanderbilt
cleared the bench and cruised to the 84-50 victory.
Vanderbilt was led in scoring by
Jenni Benningfield with 24 points, a new career high, including three of
four from 3-point range. Chantelle Anderson and Abi Ramsey each added 17
with nine of Anderson's points coming from the free throw line and
Ramsey connecting on four of six from 3-point range. Benningfield and
Ashley Earley each had eight rebounds for Vanderbilt, and Grimaldi finished
with nine assists. Benningfield blocked three shots, and four different
Commodores had two steals.
Rita Adams and SeSe Helm led Kentucky with 12 points each, and Helm was
the leading rebounder with seven. Racquel Ellis had three assists, and
Adams had four steals.
For the game, Vanderbilt shot 54.9%
from the field (50% from 3-point range) and 67.7% from the line. Kentucky
shot 43.8% from the field (37.5% from 3-point range). The Wildcats only
attempted one free throw for the game and missed it. Vanderbilt held a
substantial edge on the boards, 35-24, including 15 offensive rebounds.
The Commodores also had fewer turnovers, with 14 compared to 23 for
With the win, Vanderbilt improves to
11-5 (1-2 SEC) while Kentucky falls to 8-7 (1-2 SEC). Next action for
the Commodores is a Thursday night game in Memorial Gym against the
Arkansas Lady Razorbacks, who defeated #2 LSU Sunday afternoon in
Fayetteville. The game completes a three-game homestand for the Commodores, who
travel to LSU next Sunday to take on the Lady Tigers.
* * * * *
Photos of Erica Grimaldi bringing the ball up court, Hillary Hager
scoring off the assist from Grimaldi, Tia Battle finishing the fast
break, Jenni Benningfield looking for the hand off, Benningfield sinking
the 3-pointer, Abi Ramsey hitting a free throw, Chantelle Anderson
battling for position, and Ashley McElhiney on the sidelines taken by Micah
Miller for VandyMania.