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.

Vanderbilt upsets Arkansas 78-70 behind excellent, all-around team performance

The Commodores had four players in double figures as they knocked off the Razorbacks for their second SEC win of the season.
Sacha+Washington+attacks+the+paint+against+the+Arkansas+Razorbacks+on+Feb.+9%2C+2023.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FNikita+Rohila%29.
Nikita Rohila
Sacha Washington attacks the paint against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Feb. 9, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila).

The Vanderbilt Commodores (11-14, 2-9) defended home court and took down the Arkansas Razorbacks (18-8, 5-6) by a score of 78-70 on Thursday, Feb. 9.

“It was a total team effort. This is indicative and reflective of what I want this program to be about,” head coach Shea Ralph said. “We wanted this. We were going to do whatever it took to finish [and win].”

The Commodores entered the game looking to avenge their Jan. 16 loss against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. Vanderbilt lost that game in devastating fashion after Arkansas’s Makayla Daniels chucked up — and connected on — a buzzer-beating prayer. 

Vanderbilt got off to an inauspicious start after some stifling Arkansas defense clogged the lane and forced Ciaja Harbison into a shot clock violation. On the other end, a Sacha Washington block landed right in the hands of Arkansas forward Erynn Barnum for an open layup. Marnelle Garraud responded, however, connecting on a quick-fire 3-pointer from the top of the key before Daniels answered with a deep ball of her own.

Garruad continued to heat up with another deep ball on the ensuing possession to give the Commodores an early 6-5 lead. Arkansas responded with a pair of free throws. Harbison, averaging 4.7 steals per game through Vanderbilt’s last three contests, nabbed her first of the game on defense before finding a wide-open Bella LaChance for another three points. Things continued to go the Commodores’ way as Washington took a charge on defense and went to work in the post for a lefty layup on the other end. LaChance got loose inside the paint for some easy points. At the first media timeout, a 9-2 run had propelled Vanderbilt to a 15-9 lead. 

Coming out of the timeout, the Commodores got a defensive stop and Harbison found a trailing Garraud in transition for another deep ball, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Arkansas continued to force the issue inside the paint, getting to the charity stripe on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead down to six points. Washington got into foul trouble early after picking up her third foul with just one minute remaining in the first quarter. Neither team was able to convert on its final possessions and the first frame ended with Vanderbilt holding onto an 18-13 lead.

Arkansas came out firing in the second quarter as Chrissy Carr and Saylor Poffenbarger used their size inside to score on consecutive possessions to cut Vanderbilt’s lead to just one. Then, Arkansas committed the cardinal sin of defense — leaving Garraud open from downtown, as the Boston College transfer knocked down her fourth triple of the night. Ryanne Allen and Carr traded threes on each team’s next possession before a few sloppy offensive trips for both teams. Harbison then eurostepped to the hoop and drew a foul. She connected from the stripe and scored her first two points of the game with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter. 

Much to the crowd’s chagrin, Allen was called for a technical foul during the same play that sent Harbison to the line, giving Arkansas two free throws and the ball. The Razorbacks connected on one-of-two before committing another offensive foul. Demi Washington made a nice move to free herself up for a layup before Daniels responded with another triple for Arkansas. A few possessions later, Daniels picked Garraud’s pocket and connected on a wide-open transition layup. 

Yet, as they had seemingly done all game, the Commodores responded. Allen confidently knocked down a triple from the right wing before LaChance connected on a sweet mid-range on the next possession. Both sides began to heat up offensively as they traded blows as time in the second half dwindled. Daniels grabbed another steal, this time off of Harbison, to score her 15th point of the game. Harbison calmly floated a layup off of the glass in the team’s final possession as Vanderbilt entered the locker room with a 37-32 halftime lead. 

Vanderbilt’s formula to success was on full display throughout the game’s first two periods. The Commodores shot 46% from downtown and forced eight Arkansas turnovers. Despite its offensive success, Vanderbilt led by just five points, much a result of Arkansas’s dominance in the paint. Washington was forced to play conservatively after recording three first-quarter fouls as the Razorbacks took control of the paint, scoring 16 of their 32 points down low. It didn’t help that Arkansas was getting to the charity stripe with regularity, attempting 12 free throws to Vanderbilt’s two. 

After an exciting halftime performance from Red Panda, play resumed in Memorial Gymnasium. The Commodores struck first blood in the second half as Harbison and Washington executed the pick-and-roll to perfection to find Washington open for a point-blank layup. Harbison, who wasn’t scoring at her usual volume (four first-half points), impacted the game beyond just scoring, as the St. Louis transfer recorded five assists through the game’s first twenty minutes. 

Vanderbilt struggled to do much on offense as the Razorbacks adjusted in an effort to eliminate the shooting threat of both Garraud and Allen. Harbison’s scoring troubles in the first half seemed to have no ill effects on her confidence, and she continued to attack, connecting on a pull-up mid-range jumper and an open layup on back-to-back possessions. No Commodores seemed to know how to stop Daniels as she splashed home another 3-pointer to help cut the Vanderbilt lead down to three. Yaubryon Chambers responded in kind, recording her first points of the game on a reverse layup. Carr and Daniels then hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Arkansas its first lead since 7-6 in the first quarter. 

But, the Commodores responded. Harbison sliced right through the paint on her way to an and-one finish to put the Commodores back on top and send the game into a media timeout. Vanderbilt continued to force the issue on defense, as Chambers took a charge to force Arkansas’s 11th turnover. After Harbison found Washington for her eighth assist of the game, Allen came up with a block on defense and calmly sunk both free throws after a foul. The scoreboard showed 55-49 in favor of the home team as Vanderbilt failed to get a shot up before the third-quarter buzzer.

Harbison opened up the fourth quarter with back-to-back steals, but sloppy offensive play prevented the Commodores from extending their lead. Nevertheless, Vanderbilt locked down on defense, and Allen made an aggressive move to the hoop before getting fouled. The freshmen stepped up to the line and calmly sank both free throws to extend Vanderbilt’s lead to seven. 

Both teams continued to struggle on offense, and, by the first media timeout of the fourth quarter, the two sides had netted six total fourth-quarter points. That didn’t last for long though, as Harbison connected on a tough layup through contact before Carr drilled a 3-pointer from the corner. After Arkansas called a timeout, Vanderbilt led 61-54. Washington went right to work in the paint before Daniels drove to the rim and converted an old-fashioned 3-point play, cutting the Vanderbilt lead to six. 

The only thing left to do? Answer back. 

Garruad connected on an off-hand layup and the foul. After she hit the free throw, the Commodores led by nine, 66-57. With time winding down, Arkansas went to work as Daniels converted on another and-1 layup, cutting the Vanderbilt lead to just four points. With under four minutes remaining, it was still anyone’s game to win. A Vanderbilt turnover put the ball right back in Daniel’s hands, but some solid defense from Sacha Washington forced a miss. 

Seemingly nothing could go right for the Commodores after another turnover led to a Barnum layup that cut the lead to two. Garruad answered with a nifty step-through scoop layup to halt the Razorbacks’s momentum. Harbison recorded her fourth steal.

On Vanderbilt’s next possession, knowing she had to step up for her team, Washington fought off three Razorbacks on the offensive glass for a putback layup.

“Just staying locked in and knowing that my teammates need me through the whole game,” Washington said. “Giving energy and knowing that we were going to stay together through the whole game.”

The Razorbacks responded with a quick layup to cut the lead to four points. With just 39 seconds left, the Commodores had victory within their sights, up 70-66. Ryanne Allen was fouled, but remained perfect from the line, sinking her fifth and sixth free throws of the game. From there, Vanderbilt nailed a few more free throws and closed the game out, with the final scoreboard showing 78-70.

Vanderbilt was lifted to victory by a fantastic all-around performance. Garraud led the team with 17 points, Harbison scored 14 points and added eight assists and Washington scored 16 points while grabbing 8 rebounds. Ryanne Allen logged 34 minutes and scored 12 points in just her second career start.

The Commodores will look to keep it rolling on the road against the Tennessee Lady Volunteers on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. CST.

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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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