After a close loss to a ranked opponent, Vanderbilt didn’t wallow in self-pity.
Instead, the Commodores channeled their frustration into their best practice of the season on Saturday. One day later, they rolled to a 79-53 victory over Ole Miss on Sunday at Memorial Gymnasium.
Christina Foggie led four players in double figures with 22 points to help her team bounce back from Thursday’s 60-52 defeat at No. 16 Texas A&M, which is less than two years removed from winning a national championship.
“There were a lot of positives that came out of it but at the same time we’re not satisfied with a moral victory,” Foggie said. “It definitely wasn’t a negative feeling after the game. But we definitely had a lot of things to learn from that game and how to close games. Not play 30 minutes but to play 40 minutes. I think we played 40 minutes [Sunday].”
The Commodores (15-7, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) rolled to their 16th straight home victory over Ole Miss. The Rebels last won in Nashville in 1987.
Ole Miss (8-14, 1-8) pulled within eight points midway through the first half but never got closer. It didn’t make a field goal for the next 11:25, including the final 9:01 of the first half.
Vanderbilt ended the half on a 15-2 run and led 38-17 at the break and scored 25 points off 14 first-half Rebel turnovers. Ole Miss finished with 21 turnovers, which Vanderbilt turned into 40 points.
“We reverted back to some of our former poor habits and they absolutely just killed us any time we did that,” Ole Miss acting head coach Brett Frank said. “Every mistake we made they took advantage of. I do think that set a very positive tone for them early in the game.”
Despite missing Saturday’s practice with an ankle sprain, Tiffany Clarke scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Heather Bowe also grabbed eight rebounds in addition to 11 points. Jasmine Lister chipped in 11 points and Elan Brown had eight.
The starters accounted for 66 points despite playing fewer minutes than usual.
Coach Melanie Balcomb went to her bench early and often. She played four freshmen – Bowe, Jasmine Jenkins, Morgan Batey and Kendall Shaw – within the first nine minutes, including three at the same time. Ten players played at least 13 minutes and four starters logged fewer minutes than their average. Lister, a junior point guard, entered averaging an SEC-high 35.8 minutes but played just 25.
“We’re trying to really come together as a team and get deeper and stay fresher,” Balcomb said. “We’re learning that from the games we’re losing, close games to the top teams in the conference. They’re teaching us a lot. And one of those things is that our starters need to play less minutes. Everybody came off the bench and did their job and did their role. I couldn’t really ask for more than that.”