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.

Harbison scores 41 as Vanderbilt knocks off Texas A&M 88-79 for first SEC win of the season

Led by Ciaja Harbison’s 41-point performance, the Vanderbilt Commodores won their first conference game of the season in a 88-79 victory over Texas A&M.
Ophelia Lu
Vanderbilt guard Ciaja Harbison dribbles the ball Sunday against Texas A&M (Hustler Multimedia/Ophelia Lu).

The Vanderbilt Commodores (10-12, 1-7 SEC) earned their first conference win of the season Sunday as they knocked off the Texas A&M Aggies (6-13, 1-8 SEC) at Memorial Gymnasium. The effort was led by guard Ciaja Harbison, whose 41 points — including at least 18 in both halves — tied the single-game school record. Harbison couldn’t be stopped all game, shooting 14-for-19 from the field and 11-13 from the free-throw line.

“I knew I was capable of doing it,” Harbison said after the game. “I’m excited about my performance, but I’m more excited about the win that my team put out today together. Today was a result of the hard work that we’ve been putting in since the beginning of the year. That’s what matters most.”

Vanderbilt fell into a 7-0 early hole due to an 0-for-5 shooting start but worked back into the game thanks to a three-point play by Ciaja Harbison and a four-point play by freshman guard Ryanne Allen. For the rest of the first half, the Commodores chipped away at the Aggie lead, never letting the visitors get too far ahead.

Starting around midway through the second quarter, the Commodores went on a 12-0 run featuring fast-break points from Yaubryon Chambers and Harbison. Marnelle Garraud then sunk a 3-pointer to put the Commodores in the lead for the first time. Vanderbilt took its largest lead of the game at the time at 36-28. After a couple more baskets for both teams in the last minute, the Commodores took a 40-32 lead into halftime.

As strong as Vanderbilt looked in their second-quarter run, they were even more energetic coming out of the break. The Commodores jumped out of the locker room with two quick 3-pointers from Garraud and Jada Brown, forcing a Texas A&M timeout less than three minutes into the half with a 49-35 advantage. The Aggies continued to hang around, but a made bucket by Harbison at the very end of the third quarter felt like the dagger, putting the Commodores up 72-56.

The 32-point quarter for Vanderbilt was headlined by a 64.7% team field-goal percentage in the third frame.

The Commodore offense cooled down at the beginning of the fourth quarter, allowing the Aggies to draw back within single-digits. Vanderbilt only scored three points in the first four minutes of the last period but broke out of the slump with yet another 3-pointer from Harbison, followed quickly by a deep ball from Bella LaChance to restore the double-digit lead. Chambers and Sacha Washington both fouled out in the fourth quarter, but the Commodores left on the floor were able to hold on to secure a 88-79 win.

“We needed every single one of [Harbison’s] 41 points,” head coach Shea Ralph said in her postgame press conference. “But what I love about her individual performance is that it contributed to an overall incredible team performance.”

Defensively, Vanderbilt held the perimeter well but was susceptible to mismatches down low. The Aggies beat the Commodores 38-30 in the paint as Texas A&M’s Aaliyah Patty and Sydney Bowles took advantage of the small Commodore lineup, especially Sacha Washington off the floor.

Meanwhile, the Commodore offense was underwhelming down low, but their ability to shoot from behind the arc and get to the free-throw line won them the game. The Commodores shot 45% on 3-pointers and 77.8% from the charity stripe as a team. 

The Commodores will be back in action on Thursday, Feb. 2, on the road against Missouri at 8 p.m. CST.

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About the Contributors
Frankie Sheehy
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
Ophelia Lu
Ophelia Lu, Deputy Photography Editor
Ophelia Lu (’26) is from Los Angeles and is double majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering in the School of Engineering. She previously served as a staff photographer. When not covering events and sports games for The Hustler, you can find her listening to a lot of music, studying at Starbucks or lying on Alumni lawn. She can be reached at [email protected].
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