NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt had found wins hard to come by over the last five weeks or so. But it was finally able to put together some positive momentum Sunday during a 63-47 win over visiting Mississippi at Memorial Gymnasium.
“It feels so good,” Vanderbilt junior Chelsie Hall said. “We really needed this one so I’m just excited.”
The Commodores (13-10, 3-7 SEC) are one victory away from matching their win total from the last two seasons combined. Getting to win No. 13 was a struggle – mostly because of a daunting schedule and injuries to Brinae Alexander and Autumn Newby along the way.
Sunday’s win was a grind over last-place Ole Miss (7-16, 0-10 SEC), but a win is a win as the 2019-20 regular season hits the home stretch. The Dores were elated afterward to be discussing a victory and to have some confidence moving forward.
“I think it put things in perspective,” Hall said about the team’s losing streak after starting the season 12-4. “It showed our weaknesses and I think that in practices this we week we had a mindset to come in and work hard because we have to know what it takes to get these wins. We play in the best conference – the SEC.”
That trio helped Vandy win every quarter but the fourth (a 15-15 tie) and build a lead as large as 20 points in the second half.
Vanderbilt also forced 22 Ole Miss turnovers and held the Rebels to an 18 off 55 clip from the floor.
“We wanted to get back to our defensive intensity and make sure we were out in passing lanes and making things difficult,” Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White said. “I’d like to see us convert more of those turnovers into buckets, I thought we didn’t do a good enough job of pushing things in transition, but our defensive energy and intensity was better (Sunday) and it will continue to get better.”
The Commodores (13-10, 3-7 SEC) have just six games remaining before the Southeastern Conference Tournament starting March 4 in Greenville, South Carolina. Four of those games are on the road starting with a trip to No. 16 Texas A&M (18-5, 6-4) at 8 p.m. Thursday.
But with some renewed confidence, Vandy will continue to take any challenge head on – just as it has done all season.
“We talk about all the time about how we do anything is how we do everything. It was about being sharp and about consistency and about execution and the details,” White said. “I feel like we got sluggish in some of those areas. Our energy and our intensity our huge. Being able to bring those every day in practice and being able to bring those for a 40-minute game is the next step in our growth process.
“We know we’ve got pieces now, we know culturally we’ve moved ourselves along, now we’ve got to be able to stack energy into consistent energy into execution in our details. Learning how to take pride in that is when you get to the next level.”