12th Ranked Vanderbilt Uses Big Runs To Pull Away From Lady Toppers 90-72

By: Chris Glowacki, WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Chris Glowacki, WKU Athletic Media Relations

Bowling Green, Ky. — The 12th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores used a 16-0 run at the start of the game, then held off a late second-half charge by the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team to pick up a 90-72 win Sunday afternoon in front of 2,458 fans at E.A. Diddle Arena.

The loss dropped WKU to 1-1 on the season, while Vanderbilt remained perfect at 2-0.

"Vanderbilt is such a good, well-coached basketball team that is disciplined at both ends of the court," said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. "We made a great run there in the second half, but credit Vanderbilt’s experience — they never wavered from their game plan the entire night.

WKU trailed by 14 points at intermission, then saw the Commodores stretch their lead back out to 20 when a Merideth Marsh layup made it a 65-45 game just five minutes into the period. However, Arnika Brown took over for WKU for the next five minutes, scoring 10 unanswered points before a jumper by Amy McNear cut the Vandy lead to 65-57 at the midway point of the half.

The Commodores came right back as, after the teams traded threes, Christina Wirth knocked down a jumper to spark a 13-0 run as the lead extended back out to 21 points with just under six minutes remaining.

WKU was able to cut the lead down to 14 in the final minutes, but could get no closer as the Commodores picked up the 18-point victory.

The Lady Toppers found themselves playing from behind almost the entire contest. After Brown scored four quick points to give the Lady Toppers a 4-2 advantage, Vanderbilt scored 16 unanswered points — hitting 6-of-7 shots from the floor during the run, and forcing five WKU turnovers — to open up an 18-4 lead on a Jence Rhodes layup with 13:55 on the first-half clock. WKU was held without a field goal for nearly six minutes before a Dominique Duck layup cut the deficit to 23-9 at the 11:41 mark.

The Commodores were able to open up a 21-point advantage with eight minutes remaining in the period when a Hannah Tuomi layup made it a 32-11 game. After a Christina Wirth three gave Vandy a 35-15 advantage, the Lady Toppers used 10-2 run to cut the lead to 37-25 after back-to-back Kenzie Rich threes.

Vanderbilt was able to stretch its lead back out to 17 points with just under two minutes to play before Rich and LaTeira Owens hit threes on two straight possessions to make it a 46-35 game with just under a minute left. After trading baskets, Marsh knocked down a three in the closing seconds to send Vanderbilt to the locker room with a 51-37 lead.

The Commodores shot 60.6 percent from the field in the opening half, and finished the night connecting on 56.3 percent of their shot attempts. WKU shot 45.9 percent from the field, but were victimized by 25 turnovers that led to 31 Vanderbilt points.

Brown posted her second double-double in as many games, finishing with 20 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. She paced three Lady Toppers in double figures as Duck tossed in 11 points, and Teranie Thomas had 10 points off the bench. McNear also finished with a career-high 11 assists for WKU.

Wirth paced Vanderbilt with a game-high 24 points, while Tuomi added 19, and Marsh and Jessica Mooney accounted for 13 and 10, respectively.

WKU will conclude its three-game homestand on Friday (Nov. 21) when its hosts George Washington at 7 p.m. (CST) at Diddle Arena.

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