New women’s basketball head coach Stephanie White started off her Vanderbilt career on a high note Sunday afternoon, taking care of business against the Bellarmine Knights with a 97-63 victory in the the team’s first exhibition.
The Commodores got off to a sloppy start to the game, turning the ball over 10 times in the first quarter to go along with nine personal fouls. Despite the miscues, Vandy managed to jump out to a 18-13 lead, thanks in large part to solid defense that held the Knights to 5-22 shooting in the quarter.
Bellarmine cut the lead to 18-17 at the start of the second quarter with a couple of fast breaks, before junior guard Rachel Bell hit a three that sparked a 12-0 run for the Commodores. Bellarmine struggled to get open looks in the first half, as it fell behind 38-25 at the break.
The offensive potential of this Vanderbilt team was on full display in the third quarter. The Commodores scored 31 points without committing a turnover and without actually shooting particularly well. Instead, they forced several turnovers, generated extra possessions and attacked the basket relentlessly, getting to the line 13 times.
“We are a team that’s going to play at a fast pace, and now I think that we’ve got to learn how to make those decisions playing at that speed,” White said of the team’s early turnover problems.
Outside of the careless mistakes that were sure to surface in the first scrimmage of the season, the Commodores looked like a team with a much higher ceiling than last year’s squad, especially offensively. While it was only a scrimmage, the 97 points scored Sunday were more than they managed in any game last season.
Freshman Cierra Walker led the Commodores with 18 points, while Bell added 16 of her own. Senior forward Marqu’es Webb chipped 12 points and a team-high 14 rebounds.
Vanderbilt has one more scrimmage next Sunday before opening regular season play on November 11th against Kennesaw State.