The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Commodores overcome slow start, remain unbeaten with 70-61 win over Austin Peay

Despite early offensive struggles, Vanderbilt remained undefeated with a home victory on Thursday night.
The+Commodores+before+their+game+against+Austin+Peay+on+Nov.+17%2C+2022.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
Vanderbilt Athletics
The Commodores before their game against Austin Peay on Nov. 17, 2022. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

In their third home game of the young season, Vanderbilt used a late surge to pull away from the Austin Peay Governors, winning 70-61. The Commodores started the game slowly on offense and struggled to assert themselves against a resilient Austin Peay squad. The Commodores were led offensively again by Ciaja Harbison, who scored 22 points but shot just 6-15 from the field. Vanderbilt committed 19 turnovers in the performance, but shot an efficient 50% from the field in the victory. 

“I’m proud of the way we finished the game today,” head coach Shea Ralph said after the game. “We made the plays we needed to make to win. I’m still a little bit disappointed in our starts the last couple of games. We’ve got a lot of things to work on.”

As they have frequently this season, the Commodores found themselves down in the game’s opening minutes. In large part due to crafty guard play, the Governors were able to break the Commodores’ full-court press with ease on multiple occasions, allowing Austin Peay to jump out to an early 10-4 lead. Despite their guards finding open shooters, the Commodores began the game shooting just 2-10 from the field. With time winding down in the first quarter, freshman Jada Brown converted twice on contested layups, but poor interior defense on the other end allowed the Governors to finish the first frame leading 16-10. 

Despite major lineup adjustments from Ralph heading into the second quarter, the Commodores continued to struggle offensively. Vanderbilt turned the ball over three times to start the quarter, while leading scorer Harbison was held without a basket through the entire half. Despite the inefficiency on offense, the Commodores were still able to hang in on the defensive end. Takeaways from Yaubryon Chambers and Demauri Washington were able to create easy scoring opportunities in transition for Vanderbilt, but the Commodores found themselves down 23-16 as the second half passed its midway point. 

After a slow start, an appearance from guard Bella LaChance off of the bench appeared to give Vanderbilt the spark they needed. After a broken play with three minutes remaining in the half, LaChance converted on a three-pointer from near the logo to cut Austin Peay’s lead to six. On the following possession, LaChance lost her defender with a nifty crossover and found a wide open Brown, who sank the shot to pull the Commodores within three. The Commodores used the momentum created by LaChance’s introduction to spring themselves back into the game, and went into the halftime break leading 29-27 after a late surge. 

After playing her worst half of the young season, Harbison was not held down for long. The graduate transfer scored seven points on Vanderbilt’s first three possessions of the second half, including a difficult and-1 finish in transition to put the Commodores ahead by seven. Despite the early punch from the Commodores, Austin Peay was able to battle back as the third quarter wore on, forcing turnovers and converting on their opportunities in transition. Austin Peay continued to dominate on the interior as the third quarter progressed, scoring all but two of their points in the quarter in the paint. Despite Vanderbilt’s efforts to put them away, Austin Peay continued to battle back, cutting the Commodores’ lead to just two heading into the third quarter. 

The final frame started quietly for both offenses, as strong defensive rotations from both sides negated scoring opportunities. After two post-up conversions from Sasha Washington, Vanderbilt found themselves leading 52-50 as the six-minute mark approached. The sophomore forward had a productive evening, totalling nine points and eight rebounds from the frontcourt. 

Despite her sluggish start, the Commodores turned to Marnelle Garraud down the final stretch. The graduate transfer knocked down two three-pointers on consecutive possessions with four minutes remaining to extend Vanderbilt’s lead to 60-52. With the conversions, Garraud passed 1,000 total career points. The Commodores’ defense also began to shore up at the right time, forcing turnovers on three straight possessions and breaking well in transition. In the end, the Commodores late push proved to be too much for Austin Peay, with Vanderbilt holding on for a 70-61 victory.

After winning their fifth straight, Vanderbilt will look to remain undefeated when they take on Saint Joseph’s on November 20th at 2:00 p.m. CST. 

 

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About the Contributor
Anish Mago
Anish Mago, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
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