Vanderbilt downs Air Force in Classic opener

Box Score |

Freshman Erin Whalen was hot from the floor and fellow freshman Kayla Overbeck was hot from the foul line on Friday night. Together they helped lead Vanderbilt to a 75-49 win over Air Force in the opening round of the Air Force Classic.

Whalen finished 7-of-8 from the floor and scored a season-high 19 points. Overbeck added 15 points, making 11-of-13 free throws, and hauled in seven rebounds to help the Commodores (6-1) extend their winning streak to five games. Whalen fouled out in the fourth quarter, but by then, the Commodores were in command.

Rachel Bell finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Kailin Davis had with 17 points for Air Force (1-6).

Vanderbilt will face Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the Classic’s championship game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Against Air Force, the Commodores owned a 34-23 lead at the half and then opened the second half with a quick 6-0 run to extend the lead to 17. Vanderbilt went on to outscore Air Force 24-14 in the period to build a 58-37 lead, with Whalen capping the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner.

“I was much more pleased with our energy in the second half,” said first-year head coach Stephanie White. “And as for Erin, she had a good week of practice, and I was really happy to see that carry over to the game tonight. She played really well.”

Vanderbilt’s Marqu’es Webb had a game-high eight rebounds, including pulling down the 500th of her career early in the first quarter.

Whalen filled out the stat sheet with five rebounds, two steals and an assist to go with her 19 points.

The Commodores — playing without leading scorer Rebekah Dahlman (hamstring injury) — shot just 33 percent from the floor in the first half and 42 percent for the game. They were especially cold from long range, making just 2-of-11 shots. But Vanderbilt made up for that at the foul line, finishing 27-of-32 (84.4 percent) to continue their season-long trend of effective work from the line.

The Commodore defense also played a key role in the victory, limiting Air Force to just 27 percent shooting.

NOTES: Friday’s victory was Vanderbilt’s second consecutive road win after the Commodores posted a 79-77 win at UT Martin on Sunday. … Vanderbilt defeated Air Force 86-29 last year in Nashville. … The teams combined for 57 free throws in Friday’s game, with VU making 27-of-32 and Air Force going 15-of-25.