NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt women’s basketball is back in the win column after defeating Kentucky 65-57 at home Thursday inside Memorial Gymnasium.
Brinae Alexander set a career-high in scoring with 26 points, the sixth time this season that she has reached the 20-point mark. She came only one 3-pointer shy of entering the Vanderbilt record books for 3s made in a single game.
Alexander added five rebounds and three assists.
Vanderbilt (11-10, 2-5 SEC) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard with a successful trip to the free throw line by Demi Washington with only 30 seconds ticked off the game clock. Kentucky (9-8, 2-5 SEC) responded shortly after as the teams began trading baskets.
The lead changed hands early on with neither team being able to create much separation. The opening stanza belonged to the Commodores after a made 3-pointer from Alexander down the stretch put the Commodores up 17-15.
Vandy controlled the lead and tempo despite the Wildcats shooting an impressive 50 percent from the floor.
The second period was much of the same as the teams vied for position ahead of halftime. Vanderbilt began the period with back-to-back baskets from Washington and Iyana Moore, respectively, ballooning the differential to seven points. The Wildcats retook the lead, momentarily, with just less than four minutes remaining off a second-chance 3-pointer from Rhyne Howard.
The Commodores closed the first half on an 11-2 run, leading the Wildcats 35-28 at the break.
Kentucky notched an incredible third period, scoring a total of 18 points, the most points in a period for the Wildcats on the night. The visitors were a mainstay at the free throw line going 5-for-6 from the charity stripe while adding points from other spots on the floor.
However, the Commodores didn’t fade into the night and notched 17 total points with contributions from nearly everyone on the hardwood.
Vanderbilt headed into the final stanza with an eight-point lead, 54-46. Kentucky softened the deficit to three points around the five-minute mark with a driving layup by Emma King.
But, an immediate response from Sacha Washington and the Vandy offense put two more points on the board. The Wildcats began clock management strategies and fouled the Commodores sending Jordyn Cambridge, Moore and Alexander to the free throw line to conclude the contest.
The game had 10 lead changes and was tied twice. The Vandy lead, at its largest, was 10 points in the third period.
Vanderbilt’s notorious defense forced 25 Wildcat miscues and notched 23 points from those errors. Fast break (10), paint (26) and bench points (9) were all tied.
In her first game back after missing a pair of contests, Cambridge scored nine points and added six assists while swiping the ball from Kentucky eight times. She even tallied a block on the night.
A near double-double from Sacha Washington proved crucial with 12 total rebounds and nine points. She led all players in offensive and total rebounds.
Howard, an All-American and the SEC preseason Player of the Year for the Wildcats, scored 25 points to lead her team and collected 10 rebounds.
Vanderbilt continues the two-game home series by hosting Auburn at 2 p.m. Sunday in Memorial Gymnasium.