– Brinae Alexander
admits she was a bit nervous last Sunday, when she heard her name announced in Vanderbilt's starting lineup ahead of its exhibition against the University of Indianapolis. Alexander, a freshman, was about to start her first game as a college athlete. In that moment, the Commodore newcomer couldn't help but feel a jolt of anxiety.
But a quick look into the stands at Memorial Gymnasium helped quell Alexander's concerns.
"My family was all here," Alexander said. "They even made T-shirts for me. I love their support, and I'm excited to know they will be here for me no matter what."
With her family in tow, the Murfreesboro, Tenn. native made all attendees proud in her first game at Vanderbilt. The 5-10 forward hit 8-of-17 shots – including 3-of-5 from 3-point range – to finish with 21 points and six rebounds, helping the Dores top Indianapolis 90-60. Alexander joined point guard Chelsie Hall
(22 points) and center Mariella Fasoula
(26) in scoring at least 20 points, the first time three Vanderbilt players have surpassed the 20-point plateau in a game since 2011.
Needless to say, Alexander's first experience as a Commodore at Memorial Gym didn't disappoint.
"I see a lot of potential with our team," Alexander said. "I came here to Vanderbilt to make history. It's important that we started that off on the right foot."
Alexander expects to play a key role in expediting Vanderbilt's turnaround under third-year head coach Stephanie White
, and she will do so as a local product. The freshman forward was a standout at Murfreesboro's Riverdale High, where she won three straight Tennessee AAA state titles and went 70-1 during her final two high school seasons.
Alexander signed with Vanderbilt as a five-star recruit who coveted a college career forged in front of friends and family in Nashville. But Alexander also eyed a chance to play with Jordyn Cambridge
, a 5-9 guard and fellow five-star signee from Nashville's Ensworth School. Alexander and Cambridge had been longtime friends and saw a chance to jointly write new chapters of Vanderbilt history.
"It means so much to me to have somebody on my team that I've known for so long and had a long friendship with," Alexander said of Cambridge, who remains out indefinitely with knee injury. "Our chemistry on and off the court is awesome. I'm lucky to have Jordyn as a friend and teammate, and I'm so glad we get to play together."
Commodore fans must wait a bit longer to see both highly touted freshmen on the floor together. But Alexander has already wasted no time in making an impact, White said.
is somebody who comes in and is a winner," White said. "She has been a winner at every stage of her career, every place that she's been. She's aggressive, she's versatile, she loves to play, she loves to compete. Her energy is infectious. She's stepping in with a great opportunity to get a lot of minutes right away."
Alexander boasts a knack for scoring and rebounding, which is why the freshman is a likely starter going forward for the Dores. Vanderbilt has lost seniors Rachel Bell
, Myka Dancy
and Christa Reed
, as well as sophomores Kayla Overbeck
and Erin Whalen
, both of whom transferred during the offseason. But Hall is an All-SEC honoree at point guard, while Cierra Walker
(.425 3-point percentage in 2017-18) and Autumn Newby
(team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game) are key returnees.
Plus, the 6-5 Fasoula, a redshirt junior, is a difference-maker in the post for Vanderbilt; she scored 26 points (11-of-12 shooting) and added 11 boards against Indianapolis on Sunday.
The Commodores hope that recipe helps push the program to another level in the SEC. Alexander expects to be a big piece to that puzzle. With hard work, the freshman will have plenty more memorable nights in Memorial – just like Sunday.
"I was very excited, and I almost got a little emotional," Alexander said. "I just came here to start a new trend at Vanderbilt."
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.