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No. 19/20 Vanderbilt Takes Down Lady Flames
Liberty, now 3-7 on the year, fell despite a career-high 18 points by senior guard Rachel Hammond. Vanderbilt improved to 11-2 with its third home victory in the last four days, turning 25 Liberty miscues into 34 points.
The Lady Flames got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first minute, as Hammond swished a three-pointer and Avery Warley scored on a putback.
Homestanding Vanderbilt did not claim its first lead until the 14:01 mark, when Jennifer Risper converted a Liberty turnover into a transition hoop, putting the Commodores in front, 9-8.
Risper's basket was part of an 18-0 Vanderbilt run. Tia Gibbs scored seven points during the surge, which concluded with a Hannah Tuomi basket from the paint at 10:28. Her connection increased the home team's advantage to 23-8.
Vanderbilt's lead got as large as 19, at 30-11, when Jessica Mooney converted an old-fashioned three-point play, 6:03 before the intermission.
The Lady Flames responded by tallying the game's next seven points. A Moriah Frazee layup with 2:38 on the first-half clock cut their deficit to 30-18.
The Commodores rebuilt a 17-point advantage, 38-21, at halftime, after a three-point play by Tuomi with just 26.9 seconds remaining.
Liberty won the first-half rebounding battle, 16-13, and made three of their six attempts from beyond the three-point arc. However, Vanderbilt converted 16 Lady Flame turnovers into 22 points.
The Commodores also shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field during the first 20 minutes, including 20 points from the paint.
Individually, Frazee paced the Lady Flames with seven points during the opening stanza, while Kylee Beecher paced all players with four rebounds.
For the nationally-ranked Commodores, Merideth Marsh notched 11 opening-half markers, leading the seven different Vanderbilt players who scored prior to the break. Nine of Marsh's points came on a trio of three-pointers.
Vanderbilt's initial 20-point point lead of the game came at 41-21, when Risper converted an offensive rebound into two points, just 1:43 into the second half.
The Lady Flames, appropriately clad in red three days before Christmas, roared back with a 9-0 burst over the next 2:15. Hammond bookended the run with a triple and a fast-break jumper. Her latter hoop, coming with 16:02 left, brought Liberty to within 41-30.
The Lady Flames still trailed by 11 points, before Vanderbilt opened up a bit more breathing room with 19-4 surge over the next 7:37 of action The Commodores' lead reached a game-high 26 points, 64-38, on a Christina Wirth second-chance hoop with 5:19 showing on the numerous clocks inside Memorial Gymnasium.
Liberty still had one comeback attempt remaining, as the Lady Flames reeled off a 10-0 run, started off on consecutive triples by Hammond and Amber Mays. Frazee split a pair of charity tosses at the 3:04 mark, trimming Vanderbilt's advantage to 64-48.
That's as close as the Lady Flames got, though, as the Commodores ended up with a 67-50 triumph, their eighth home victory of the season.
Liberty matched Vanderbilt's point total after halftime, 29-29, limiting the Commodores to 33.3 percent (10-of-30) field goal shooting.
Hammond improved her career scoring high by hitting three triples and tallying 13 second-half points for the second game in a row. Frazee complemented Hammond's offensive effort with 15 points and seven boards. Her work on the glass accomplished a couple things, as it enabled the Lady Flames to outrebound Vanderbilt, 37-32, and moved Frazee into 20th place on Liberty's career list with 499 caroms.
Mays gave Liberty a third double-digit scorer, fashioning 10 points and a team-high four assists. Warley paced the Lady Flames in rebounds, hauling in eight boards while blocking two Commodore shot attempts.
Tia Gibbs spearheaded Vanderbilt's balanced scoring attack, as the freshman scored 15 points and nailed three of the Commodores' six three-pointers. Gibbs also collected a team-best six rebounds and speared four steals. Marsh, who made Vanderbilt's other three triples during the matinee, ended up with 11 points.
Liberty will be back in action on Dec. 29, when the Lady Flames begin their third tournament of the 2008-09 season, the Hokie Hardwood Classic, at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va. Liberty will square off with 5-3 North Carolina A&T in the opening contest, slated for a 5 p.m. tip-off. Lafayette (5-7) will face the host team, Virginia Tech (6-4), in the nightcap at 7 p.m.