Nashville, Tenn. — A long scoring drought that lasted from the end of the first half into early in the second period by the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team proved to be the difference as 17th-ranked Vanderbilt ran away with a 75-54 victory Thursday night at Memorial Gymnasium.
The Lady Toppers fell to 6-3 on the season as their two-game win streak came to an end. The Commodores improved to 8-2 with the victory.
Both WKU and Vanderbilt blistered the nets coming out of the gate, combining for 25 points in the first four minutes of the contest. The Lady Toppers knocked down six of their first nine shots, and jumped out to a 17-15 lead on a pair of Hope Brown free throws with 13:32 on the first-half clock. However, WKU would go on to shoot just 26.9 percent from the field in the opening half, connecting on just one field goal in the final 14 minutes of the period and none in the last eight minutes. After a Dominique Duck layup at the 8:02 mark cut the Vanderbilt lead to 24-19, WKU would only score off free throws the rest of the half as it went into the locker room trailing 35-26.
The Commodores scored the first eight points of the second half to stretch their lead to 43-26 just two minutes into the period. The Lady Toppers would get no closer the rest of the way as Vandy opened up a 63-34 lead on a Jennifer Risper layup with 11:16 to play. WKU got as close as 20 on a Crystal Kelly layup with 3:28 remaining, and after the Commodores scored four straight, Whitney Ballinger knocked down a three for the final points of the night to make the final margin 21.
WKU improved its shooting in the second half, connecting on 34.6 percent of its shots, but Vanderbilt shot at a 50-percent clip in the final period. The Lady Toppers held a distinct advantage on the boards, outrebounding Vanderbilt 47-31 and collecting 17 offensive rebounds. However, WKU committed a season-high 29 turnovers in the game, which led to 26 Commodore points.
Kelly led the Lady Toppers with 15 points, moving her within 21 of the WKU career scoring record. Duck finished the night with 11 points, while Brown added 10. Charlotte Marshall collected a game-high 12 rebounds. Liz Sherwood paced Vanderbilt with 20 points — 14 of which came in the second half.
The Lady Toppers will be off for over a week due to final exams. They will return to action next Sunday (Dec. 16), hosting instate rival Louisville at 2 p.m. (CST) at E.A. Diddle Arena.