NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ciaja Harbison scored a program record-tying 41 points to lead Vanderbilt women’s basketball to its first SEC win of the season, an 88-79 victory over Texas A&M on Sunday afternoon at Memorial Gymnasium.
Harbison finished 14 of 19 from the field and 11 of 13 from the free throw line to tie the single-game program record set by Chantelle Anderson in 2001 against Mississippi State. Anderson was in attendance to watch Harbison match her record as part of Alumni Day for the Commodores (10-12, 1-7 SEC).
Harbison, a graduate senior guard in her first season at Vanderbilt, scored in a variety of ways to dazzle the crowd. She drained 3-pointers, pull-up jumpers, floaters and driving layups to score 30-plus points for the third time this season.
A week after the Aggies (6-13, 1-8 SEC) broke through for their first SEC win of the season, Vanderbilt did the same behind an efficient offense and aggressive defense.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Vandy started 0 for 5 from the field. Harbison, who entered the game as the SEC’s second-leading scorer at 18.4 points per game, ended the early drought by converting an acrobatic layup while being fouled for a three-point play to spark the offense and provide a sign of what was to come.
Harbison’s two free throws to end the first quarter drew Vandy within 18-15. After Sacha Washington drained a jumper to start the second quarter to cut the deficit to just a point, A&M went on a 7-0 run for a 25-17 lead.
That’s when the Dores turned up the defense and began forcing turnovers. Harbison took advantage on the other end by going on a personal 7-0 run and Vandy took its first lead at 29-28 when graduate guard Marnelle Garraud knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:56 remaining in the first half.
Vandy outscored A&M 20-7 to end the second quarter and take a 40-32 lead into halftime. The Dores held the Aggies without a field goal for the final 5:12 of the half. Harbison scored 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting through the first 20 minutes. Vanderbilt forced 10 turnovers and was 13 of 15 from the free throw line in the first half.
Vandy expanded its lead early in the second half with Garraud and Jada Brown hitting back-to-back 3-pointers for a 14-point advantage. Harbison scored the final seven points of the third quarter on a 3-pointer, two free throws and a pull-up jumper to give the Dores a 16-point lead at 72-56.
Texas A&M opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit in half, but Vanderbilt never let the Aggies get any closer.
Harbison scored Vandy’s last seven points of the game, including a floater while being fouled. She completed the three-point play by making the free throw to tie Anderson in the record books. Harbison had a chance to break the record, but hit the rim on a jumper with 12 seconds remaining.
Yaubryon Chambers finished with 11 points and career-high tying five assists for Vanderbilt. Garraud had 10 points and six assists. Along with her scoring, Harbison finished with five steals.
The Dores shot 54 percent (29 of 54) from the field, were 21 of 27 from the free throw line and scored 20 points off 17 A&M turnovers.
Aaliyah Petty finished with a team-high 21 points for the Aggies and Kay Kay Green added 17 before fouling out.
• The victory was Vandy’s first against an SEC opponent since beating A&M in the conference tournament on March 2 last season, and its first SEC regular-season win since beating Florida on Feb. 24 of last season.
• Harbison has scored in double figures 15 times this season and on 110 occasions in her collegiate career. She has scored 30-plus points three times this season and five times in her career. Her previous career high was 36 points, which she posted against St. Bonaventure last season while paying for Saint Louis.
• Garraud has scored in double figures 16 times this season, most on the team.
• Chambers has scored in double figures four times this season.
• Harbison has posted multiple steals in 10 games in 2022-23.
Fittingly, Vanderbilt honored Harbison for reaching 2,000 career points with head coach Shea Ralph presenting her with an engraved basketball before the game. Harbison reached the milestone in Vanderbilt’s game against South Carolina, and added to her total in magnificent fashion against the A&M.
Vanderbilt was also celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Celebration Day and Alumni Day. A fan fest was held in the practice gymnasium before the game that drew many young girls, and several alumni were in attendance at the game.
Texas A&M’s lead in the all-time series narrowed to 9-6. Vanderbilt improved to 4-4 against Texas A&M at home.
Up Next: Vanderbilt travels to play Missouri on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT (SEC Network) in Columbia.
Tickets: Students will continue to receive free admission to all home basketball games. In addition, single-game sales, mini-plans and group ticket options are available. To view the promotional schedule, click here.