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.

Offensive woes plague Commodores in 79-61 home loss to Georgia

It was a tough afternoon for Vanderbilt as it shot 35% from the field and 22% from 3-point range en-route to a home loss against Georgia.
Nikita Rohila
Vanderbilt sports pink threads during its game against Georgia on Feb. 5, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila).

The Vanderbilt Commodores (10-14, 1-9) were unable to defeat the Georgia Bulldogs (16-9, 5-6), losing 79-61 for their ninth loss in 10 SEC games. 

It was always going to be a challenge for the Commodores, as Georgia — despite entering the contest below .500 in SEC play — has been excellent all season. The Bulldogs entered the contest with an apparent chip on its shoulders after a gut-wrenching overtime loss on the road against No. 3 LSU. 

It was the Brittney Smith show early on for Georgia, as the 6’3’’ senior got to her spot with ease on two straight possessions to give the Bulldogs the lead. Sacha Washington responded with a short-range hook shot to get Vanderbilt on the board after the Commodores fought hard for three offensive rebounds. Both sides continued to trade baskets with some impressive ball movement that saw Marnelle Garraud get a wide-open look from the 3-point range

Smith remained hot as she got to the line for a pair of free throws and connected on another pair of mid-range jumpers, propelling Georgia to an 8-0 run Halfway through the first quarter, Smith entered double figures, and, by the time the first media timeout was called, she was up to 12 points on a perfect four-of-four shooting. 

Georgia was scorching hot through the first frame, shooting an incredible 11-of-12 from the field and four-of-four from the line. After the Bulldogs’ scoring run skyrocketed to 17 unanswered, Ciaja Harbison was able to connect on a free throw. Then, Vanderbilt found Ryann Allen and Bella LaChance for shots from downtown on the back-to-back possessions. The late efforts were enough to cut the Georgia lead to 13 by the end of the first period.

Turnovers were a thorn in the side of the Commodores through the first half, as it committed its sixth and seventh giveaways on its first two possessions of the second quarter. A brief scoring drought on both sides was broken when a Yaubryon Chambers block led to a fast-break Harbison jumper, but Georgia responded in turn with an open layup. 

Vanderbilt’s work on the glass continued to pay off. It snagged its 10th offensive rebound of the game with 2:51 remaining, which led to a crafty finish at the rim by Harbison. Despite its best efforts, Vanderbilt was outmatched on defense. Georgia continued to score at will, extending its lead to 19 before LaChance hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to end the half. Both teams entered the locker room with Georgia leading 45-29. Smith led all scorers with 18 first-half points. 

The onus was on the Commodores to turn things around in the second half after the first 20 minutes saw them shoot 35% from the field and 21% from 3-point range. Unfortunately, Vanderbilt opened up the second half struggling with much of what plagued the team in the first stanza. A missed layup and a turnover on its first two possessions opened the door for a 5-0 Georgia run. 

Garruad was able to settle into her spot and drill a 3-pointer to end the Georgia run. An acrobatic steal from Washington led to another nice fast-break play from Harbison, connecting on a layup through contact. 

Smith continued to impress early on, remaining perfect from the field with two point-blank layups to increase her scoring total to 22 points and extend Georgia’s lead to 21. De’Mauri Flournoy, a former Commodore, applied pressure on the defense to force Vanderbilt’s 12th turnover of the game. Gaurrad immediately picked Smith’s pocket as Georgia committed its 12th giveaway as well. 

Vanderbilt took advantage of a four-minute scoring drought from Georgia, with Harbison making an impact on both the offensive and defensive ends to lead the Commodores to a 7-0 run. Georgia’s lead was cut down to 14 points and forced Georgia head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson to take a timeout. The third quarter ended with a score of 61-47 after a pair of Georgia free throws and a buzzer-beater layup for Washington. 

Vanderbilt started the fourth quarter flat as a 6-0 Georgia run increased the deficit to 20 again. The Commodores did everything they could to claw back into the game, closing the gap to 13 at one point but were unable to close the gap despite their best efforts. Georgia and Vanderbilt’s final turnover total reached 24 and 21, respectively, in a sloppy, low-scoring final frame from both teams.

To add salt to the wound, Allen left the game with an apparent right leg injury after fighting for a rebound with just two minutes remaining. 

It was a completely different performance from last week’s magic-fueled Sunday Matinee in Memorial Gymnasium, as Vanderbilt fell to the Bulldogs in a game that it was never able to find its footing.

Head coach Shea Ralph admitted that there was a lack of energy this afternoon, but remained optimistic as she looked ahead to the Commodores’ next game.

“I think that we need to be really intentional about how we hold each other accountable,” Ralph said postgame. “There needs to be direct conversation about how we can change to be better. In the huddles, in the locker room. It needs to be taken and understood as to how we can be better.”

The Commodores will return to action in Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday, Feb. 10 against the Arkansas Razorbacks (17-7, 4-5).

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About the Contributors
Aiden Rutman
Aiden Rutman, Sports Editor
Aiden Rutman (‘25) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in communication studies. He formerly produced The Hustler’s sports podcast, Live from West End. In addition to writing and podcasting, Aiden is an avid New York sports fan, and he loves playing sports, spending time outdoors and trying new foods. You can reach him at [email protected].
Nikita Rohila
Nikita Rohila, Senior Staff Photographer
Nikita Rohila ('25) is from a small town in Arkansas and is majoring in psychology and medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Deputy Social Media Director. During her free time, she enjoys roaming around the city and getting cinematic-style shots for her photography account! You can reach her at [email protected].
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