Commodore Comeback Comes Up Short

Vandy falls in opening round of SEC Tournament

GREENVILLE, S.C. — In a game emblematic of the team’s fight all season, Vanderbilt women’s basketball made a furious fourth-quarter rally that came up just short in a 77-70 loss to Texas A&M in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday afternoon.

The 12th-seeded Commodores cut a 17-point deficit to just three points in the final minutes, but No. 13 Texas A&M managed to hold off Vandy at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena to avenge last season’s first-round tournament loss.

Sophomore Sacha Washington scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Dores (12-19). In their final games wearing Vanderbilt uniforms after arriving as graduate transfers this season, Ciaja Harbison and Marnelle Garraud finished with 16 and 10 points, respectively. Garraud added six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Harbison, a second-team All-SEC selection, had four assists and two steals.

Freshman Sydney Bowles led Texas A&M (8-19) with a career-high 22 points, going 6 of 12 from behind the 3-point line. Sahara Jones, Aaliyah Patty and Jada Malone all scored 12 points for the Aggies.

Harbison scored seven straight points for Vandy, including a reverse layup on a baseline drive, to give the Dores a 14-11 lead midway through the first quarter. But Texas A&M ended the quarter on a 10-2 run to push in front 21-16.

The Aggies expanded the run to 20-4 with a flurry of baskets to start the second quarter for a 13-point advantage. Vandy scored six straight points around the rim to cut the deficit to four points with under two minutes remaining in the half and entered halftime trailing 40-33.

Texas A&M scored 15 points off 10 Vandy turnovers in the first half.

Vandy was able to get to the free throw line more in the third quarter, making 7 of 8 attempts. But the Aggies kept scoring and took a 61-47 lead at the end of the quarter on back-to-back baskets by Patty. The Texas A&M lead grew to as much as 17 points in the fourth quarter with 7 minutes, 55 seconds remaining before Vanderbilt’s full-court press began to fluster the Aggies.

The Commodores embarked on a 14-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Garraud, to draw within 69-63 with 2:25 to go. Vanderbilt forced five straight A&M turnovers in the final feverish minutes.

Washington and Ryanne Allen went tumbling out of bounds on separate dives near the sideline to try and keep plays alive for Vandy. But Bowles made some clutch baskets and the Aggies hit just enough free throws down the stretch to hang on and snap a two-game losing streak to the Dores.

Texas A&M shot 52 percent from the field (30 of 58) while Vandy shot 42 percent (24 of 57). The Dores, who rank first in the SEC in free-throw percentage, were 14 of 16 from the free throw line.  A&M scored 22 points off 14 Vandy turnovers while the Dores scored 16 points off 16 turnovers by the Aggies.

Player Notes
• Harbison scored 10 or more points in 11 straight games, and the 24th time overall this season.
• Garraud scored in double figures for the 24th time this season, matching Harbison for most on the team. She made two 3-pointers, the 10th time in the last 11 games she’s made multiple 3s.
• Washington has now scored in double figures 30 times in her career.
• Garraud dished out at least five assists for the fifth time this season, including three of the last four games.
• Yaubryon Chambers finished with a team-high six rebounds, the most she has recorded since the Commodores’ Feb. 2 contest at Missouri.
• Allen’s three 3-point field goals were the most she has hit since making four at Louisiana Tech on Dec. 8.

SEC Tournament History
Vanderbilt is now 49-37 all-time in the SEC Tournament.

A&M Series History
Texas A&M increased its lead in the all-time series to 10-6. The teams are 1-1 in SEC Tournament meetings.