Vanderbilt Moves to 5-0, Defeats New Orleans 75-56 12-4-03
It was Hillary Hager’s night as the senior forward totaled 22 points and seven rebounds as Vanderbilt picked up its 39th consecutive victory at home (38 games at Memorial Gym and one single contest at Gaylord Entertainment Center) against non-conference competition with a 75-56 win over the New Orleans Privateers in front of 1,173 fans at Memorial Gym.
Both teams struggled at the start of the game to find an offensive rhythm as both squads combined for six turnovers and eight missed shots in the first four-plus minutes of action. VU freshman Katie Antony broke the scoring drought off a tipped ball with two free throws, and junior Ashley Earley found the bucket (with 16:50 remaining)for the initial time for either team in the opening stanza as Vanderbilt forged an early 4-0 lead.
Following two Jeannette Jimenez buckets to knot the score at four-all, a Jenni Benningfield bucket and three consecutive baskets by senior Hillary Hager scored nine points in four minutes, keying a 20-4 Vanderbilt run midway through the first half.
New Orleans continued to struggle as turnovers were the Privateers early undoing as UNO suffered 11 miscues in the first 10 minutes of play, resulting in 23 Black and Gold points.
Vanderbilt continued pounding the ball inside to Hager. The senior from Franklin, Pennsylvania finished with 11 first half points to help lead the Commodores to a 22-6 first half margin in the paint.
UNO would not go without a fight, opening up a 15-7 run that covered just over five minutes late in the first half. Senior Monique Taylor led the Privateers with nine points in all 20 minutes of the first half, including a crucial six points during the New Orleans run. She also chipped in with three first half steals. However, the UNO turnovers were the first half difference, as each team shot 44% from the field.
Vanderbilt led 39-26 going into halftime.
In the second half, Hager kept leading the way for the Commodores, who outscored UNO in the paint 10-2 midway through the half. UNO would not pull to within more than 12 as Vanderbilt dished the ball around. A 14-0 Commodore run covering 5:04 midway through the second half would seal the victory and improve the Black and Gold to a perfect 5-0 record on the season.
Three Commodores finished in double figures. Benningfield has scored in double figures in all five games this season and finished one rebound shy of her first double double since Vanderbilt faced the LSU Tigers in last season’s SEC Tournament. Ashley Earley recorded her second double double of the season, with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Commodores shot 46.6% from the field, leading the Black and Gold to the largest margin of victory for a Privateer opponent since a 22-point margin at Tulane in January.
Senior Jasmine Smiri led the Privateers with 15 points. Taylor recorded 11. Sophomore Susan Griffee finished with a season-high 13 points. Senior guard Michelle Simmons finished with a season-high seven assists and five rebounds. The Commodores held UNO, which came into tonight’s contest scoring 79 points in all three games this season on 42.0% shooting, to just 37.7%.
The next outing for the Commodores will be this Saturday, December 6, against Duquesne at Memorial Gym. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 P.M. Central Time and will be followed by the Vanderbilt men’s team contest against Big Ten foe Michigan at 8:00 p.m. The late game will be televised on Fox Sports South.