Nashville, TN -- It must have been an uneasy feeling for the Vanderbilt Commodores, running onto their home court and being greeted by a sea of bright orange.
The No. 12 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (19-4, 7-3 SEC) took advantage of their strong fan-base, pounding the Commodores (6-18, 2-8 SEC) 74-64 on Sunday afternoon.
The disadvantage didn’t seem to phase Vanderbilt, though, as the game started.
With key players Cierra Walker and Chelsie Hall leading the helm, Vanderbilt was frustrating defensively. But so was Tennessee, making it difficult for either team to get shots to fall. Tennessee took the first period with a 13-11 lead.
The Lady Vols knew how to knock down those shots and they had the height advantage on Vanderbilt. Mercedes Russell is 6'6" and towers over most of the Vanderbilt women. The height of the Lady Vols didn’t intimidate Hall, however, because she was able to squeeze through the other players quickly and effortlessly in order to drive the ball down the middle of the paint to the basket.
Despite Hall's braveness, the second period closed out with a Tennessee leading, 30-26.
Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White spoke of how proud she was when it came to Hall improving with each game.
“Chelsie likes to compete and when you have someone who likes to compete, they raise the bar,” said Vanderbilt’s Head Coach Stephanie White. Every challenge we have given her, she has stepped up to.”
Hall made the first points of the third quarter for the Commodores, and Christa Reed came in hot with a layup minutes later that brought the lead back to Vanderbilt for the first time since the first period. The momentum on the court was changing and enthusiasm in the Memorial Gymnasium was at an all-time high, but it wasn't enough for Vanderbilt, as the third period ended with Tennessee leading 43-41.
The final period of this game was filled with an inconsistent lead. Both teams were keeping within one point of each other. Hall, with a game total of 19 points, five assists, and six rebounds, was still at the top of her game with an energy that just continued to intensify.
“I was excited to go out there and play with my team and I’m proud of how we competed today,” Hall said. “Coach White trusts me with the ball and so do my teammates.”
Even Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick paid homage to Hall's talents.
“Chelsie Hall is one of the best freshmen in the SEC,” Warlick said. “She played outstanding.”
Russell, who also reached a double-double (20 pts, 11 reb), was a force to be reckoned with on the court. Even with the focus and ferocity being executed by Vanderbilt, the Lady Volunteers still widened that gap and led by as much as nine points.
Then Rachel Bell came out of nowhere with back-to-back triples with 47 seconds left in the game. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop Tennessee who took home this victory with a 10-point lead, 74-64.
Jaime Nared led all scorers with 30 points and 14 rebounds for Tennessee.
After putting up a good fight, the Vanderbilt Commodores could hold the lead against Tennessee. Final score of today’s game was 74-64.Posted by Swish Appeal on Sunday, February 4, 2018