Nashville, TN -- The Vanderbilt Commodores played their last home game of the season Thursday night against the No. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Vanderbilt Commodores were hoping to end a seven-game losing streak, but they couldn't quite handle the Bulldogs bite.
It was an emotional night for Commodores head coach, Melanie Balcomb, who watched five seniors play their final home game. "If you can just sit back for a minute and judge them based on how much they've grown here on and off the court.
"Academically they're doing the same thing, their grades get better every semester, and they are maturing, and when they cross that stage they are going to be ready to great things in their next chapter," Balcomb said.
The Bulldogs got a solid start in the first quarter, forcing turnovers and blocking shots, but the Commodores kept pushing. Vanderbilt was within six points at halftime with help from Rachel Bell and Senior Morgan Batey. Bell and Batey both led the Commodores with 12 points. Marques Webb had 11 points and seven rebounds. Christa Reed also added 11 points.
"It's been a crazy ride, I wouldn't have asked for a greater group girls to go through this with," said senior Morgan Batey. "I was pretty calm and collected most of the night, but when I saw my teammates with tears, I felt the same way."
It wasn't until the third quarter that the Bulldogs started to pull away. Mississippi State wasn't missing any shots, and the Commodores just weren't making them. The Bulldogs got up their biggest lead of the game, 16 points, in the third quarter.
Vanderbilt made their first three-pointer of the night late in the third quarter to keep their hopes alive and even pulled within three points late in the fourth, but turnovers led them to their demise. The Commodores had 25 turnovers that resulted in 21 Mississippi State points. The mistakes need to become minimal for Vanderbilt if they have any hope of winning their last game.
Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians played an outstanding game, leading the Bulldogs with 21 points and rebounds. Morgan William had 15, and Dominique Dillingham added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Vanderbilt will play their final game in Missouri on Sunday before playing in a play-in game next Wednesday for a chance to get into the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs play their last game at Alabama on Sunday as well.