NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mariella Fasoula poured in 24 points in her final home game and Vanderbilt broke a 29-game losing streak against ranked opponents with a 70-64 win against No. 15 Kentucky on Sunday at Memorial Gymnasium.
Fasoula gave the Commodores (14-15, 4-12 SEC) the lead late and helped seal the deal from the line. Vandy last defeated a ranked team Feb. 28, 2016, in a 56-52 victory over No. 24 Missouri.
Vanderbilt trailed by nine to start the fourth quarter, but got within 57-53 after a Chelsie Hall three-point play and a Koi Love layup with eight minutes remaining. Jordyn Cambridge kept Vandy within striking range with a 3 making it 61-56 and then a Fasoula layup made it 61-58.
Cambridge’s streaking layup with 4:07 left got the Dores within 61-60 and Fasoula’s bucket from inside the paint finally gave Vandy the lead back at 62-61.
With the game tied at 63-all, it was Fasoula again putting Vanderbilt ahead with a basket from the paint. And with 7.8 ticks remaining, Fasoula hit 1 of 2 free throws to ice the win.
Love added 14 for Vanderbilt while Cambridge added 12 and LeaLea Carter, a senior, scored 10.
The Commodores now face either Auburn or Missouri at 10 a.m. CT Wednesday in Greenville, South Carolina, at the Southeastern Conference tournament.
A back-and-forth opening period Sunday saw neither team lead by more than three points at any point. Kentucky recovered from a 2-for-10 start from the floor to go up 13-12 on a Chasity Patterson bucket and 15-14 on a Patterson layup.
Hall gave Vandy the lead back with a final-minute layup making it 16-15 going into the second quarter.
Hall’s bucket ended up being part of an 9-2 run that put Vandy up 23-17 midway through the period. Kentucky missed seven of its first eight field goals and the Commodores built a 25-18 lead on a Love layup with 4:23 to play until halftime.
The Wildcats – specifically Rhyne Howard – scored the final five of the half to get within 30-29 despite shooting just 29 percent over the first 20 minutes. Vanderbilt had a 21-15 rebounding advantage and scored 18 of its 30 points from inside the paint.
Kentucky opened the third quarter on a 9-4 run and was up 38-33 on a Jaida Roper jumper from the right side. Another Howard 3, this one coming at the 5:26 mark, put the Wildcats ahead 43-35.
Howard’s fifth 3 of the day made it 54-44. Kentucky would have to settle for a 55-46 going into the final frame, one that became memorable for the home team.
Kentucky (21-7, 10-6 SEC) got 28 from Howard in the loss.