Vanderbilt’s season ended with a thud.
The Commodores committed 23 turnovers and fought an uphill battle from the opening tip in a 77-44 loss to No. 1 seed Connecticut on Monday night in Storrs, Conn., in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament.
For the fourth straight year, Vanderbilt (21-12) failed to reach the Sweet 16. The Huskies (31-4) advanced to their 20th straight regional semifinals.
The Commodores also fell to 2-3 all-time in the series. They’ve dropped the last three meetings since handing UConn its most lopsided NCAA Tournament defeat, 75-47, in the second round of the 1992 tournament.
“I think we were in the game. I thought we competed until halftime,” coach Melanie Balcomb said. “Coming out of the locker room those first four minutes of the second half, I thought we were on our heels and they were very, very aggressive. I know they get a lot of turnovers and points off forced turnovers, but we never got them back.”
Playing on UConn’s home court, the Commodores, a No. 8 seed, trailed the entire game and turned the ball over 13 times in the first half.
Elan Brown closed the deficit to 25-20 with 5:44 left in the first half. The Huskies didn't let the Commodores get any closer.
UConn answered with a 12-0 run and Vanderbilt turned the ball over on five straight possessions.
The Huskies scored 34 points off Commodore turnovers.
The second half didn’t start much better. UConn scored 17 straight points and went ahead 54-24 on a 3-pointer by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis with 13:13 remaining.
The Huskies shot 54.2 percent from the field and four players scored in double figures. Mosqueda-Lewis, who set the single-season program record with her 108th 3-pointer, led the way with 22 points. Freshman forward Breanna Stewart added 14 points, five rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
Senior forward Tiffany Clarke led Vanderbilt with 16 points. Freshman Kendall Shaw, who averages just three points, came off the bench and scored 12. Guards Jasmine Lister and Christina Foggie each scored just two points.
Foggie played only 10 minutes as a knee injury hampered last year’s Southeastern Conference scoring champ for the last six weeks.
“I wish we had Foggie when she was healthy,” Balcomb said. “It is things that you have to fight through in a program with this season. It's part of the game. I would love to play with a healthy team that you plan to get, but that's not how the cards were dealt this season.”