Victory No. 1

Vanderbilt head coach Shea Ralph wins coaching debut as Commodores beat Gardner-Webb

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Five Commodores scored in double figures Tuesday and Shea Ralph won her debut as Vanderbilt head coach in a 75-59 win over visiting Gardner-Webb at Memorial Gymnasium.

Ralph, hired in April after a long stint as a Connecticut assistant and player, saw her team lead for the all but 2 1/2 minutes and hold the Runnin’ Bulldogs to 39-percent shooting.

Brinae Alexander led the way for Vandy with 20 points – four short of tying her career-high – to go along with seven rebounds. Kaylon Smith added 12 and collected nine rebounds.

Demi Washington put in 11 while Jordyn Cambridge and Kendal Cheesman each scored 10. Cambridge also had seven rebounds and three assists and Cheesman, in her Vanderbilt debut, had four rebounds, a block a steal and an assist.

The Commodores (1-0) return to the court at 7 p.m. Friday to host Little Rock (0-1).

Vanderbilt started the game with an emphatic 14-2 run thanks to eight points each from Alexander and four from Washington. The Commodores sank seven of their first 11 attempts.

Vandy led 18-6 after the first 10 minutes, a 10 minutes in which it shot 53.8 percent and got 10 points from Alexander.

Five straight points from Cambridge and an Alexander baseline jumper pushed the margin to 27-8 early in the second quarter. A Smith putback of a missed free throw late in the period put the Dores ahead 36-18.

Vandy would settle for a 37-22 lead at the break. The Dores shot 51.9 percent from the floor, made 9 of 11 free throws and got 24 points from inside the paint.

Gardner-Webb, meanwhile, shot just 29 percent.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs got within 42-30 early in the third only to see Cheesman make a right-corner 3. When Gardner-Webb got within 11 it was Cheesman again from deep, this time from the right side.

Vandy never allowed the visitors to get much closer.

Jhessyka Williams led Gardner-Webb (0-1) with 22.