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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 Women’s Basketball drops home finale 82-63 against No. 5 LSU

Despite its best efforts, Vanderbilt was unable to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit over Angel Reese and the No. 5 LSU Tigers.
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Nikita Rohila
Marnelle Garruad and Sacha Washington work the pick-and-roll against No. 5 LSU on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila)

In its final home game of the season, Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball (12-17, 3-12) fell into an early hole against the LSU Tigers (26-1, 14-1) and was unable to climb out of it despite a strong run in the third quarter, losing 82-63. The result was eerily similar to the team’s first meeting of the season when Vanderbilt traveled to LSU and fell by a score of 88-63.

“I thought our performance in the second half was much more indicative of who I want us to be,” head coach Shea Ralph said after the game. “While I did love flashes of what I saw, including the way that my team competed until the end, I think there are some things we can work on to make a special run to end the season.”

Alexis Morris opened the scoring up for the Tigers with a crisp 3-pointer on the team’s opening possession. After Marnelle Garraud missed a shot from beyond the arc, she picked the pocket of Angel Reese and got the Commodores on the board with a transition layup. Both teams traded misses before Reese took over in the low post, snagging an offensive rebound and converting a layup through contact for an and-one. Three minutes into the game, LSU was in control, leading 8-2. 

After a few stout defensive possessions and some crafty finishes from Ciaja Harbison and Sacha Washington, the Commodores cut the LSU lead to just two points before Last-Tear Poa nailed a deep ball from the top of the key.

Following a missed shot, Washington went to work on defense, recording her second blocked shot of the first frame. As a result, Ryanne Allen hit a timely 3-pointer on the other end to cut the lead to 11-9. A few possessions later, Allen was seemingly poked in the face on an offensive rebound attempt, but a travel was called instead. This call gave LSU the ball back, and Morris wasted no time, knocking down a mid-range jumper. Kateri Poole followed this shot up with a quick 3-pointer, giving LSU an 18-9 run. A Washington turnaround jumper in the low post as time expired ended a 7-0 Tigers run as the first frame ended with the scoreboard showing 18-11 in favor of the road team. 

Reese opened up the second quarter with another offensive rebound and an easy finish down low before Allen responded with her second triple of the evening. Reese came right back with a 3-point play of her own, finishing a layup through contact for the and-one. Despite the Commodores’ best efforts, Reese and her fellow Tigers were simply imposing their will below the basket. After Jada Brown connected on a mid-range jumper and a deep ball from the left wing on back-to-back possessions Vanderbilt trailed by 10, 29-19. Jasmin Carson went on a mini-run of her own, cashing two triples on two straight possessions as Vanderbilt was forced to call a timeout with the scoreboard showing 36-19. 

Vanderbilt continued to struggle with generating offensive momentum as Harbison traveled and gave the ball back to LSU. The Tigers went to work down low for an easy two as they extended their scoring run to 9-0. Harbison was able to draw contact and get herself to the line, converting one-of-two before LSU came right back with another open layup. Harbison continued to percolate, hitting a much-needed 3-pointer. Some sloppy possessions from both sides took the matchup to halftime, as LSU went to the locker room leading 40-23. 

It was no surprise that the Commodores scored just 23 first-half points, as Garraud and Harbison — the team’s two leading scorers — were shooting a combined 3-14 from the field with six turnovers. Allen led all Vanderbilt scorers with six points while adding three rebounds. For the Tigers, Reese did what she does best, dominating down low. The 6’3 sophomore had 10 points and 10 rebounds at the break. For the Commodores to overcome the 17-point deficit they were facing, they needed Garruad and Harbison to knock down some outside shots, as well as a redemptive performance on the boards (LSU outrebounded them 26-16). 

LSU began the third quarter with the ball, wasting no time finding the bottom of the net as Carson connected on another triple. Harbison responded with her second 3-pointer of the game to keep her squad within 17. After a LaDazhia Williams layup, Allen fought through contact for an old-fashioned 3-point play. Washington then picked off a pass from Flau’Jae Johnson and went coast-to-coast for a layup to bring the score to 45-31. 

Harbison drew contact and converted on both free throws before the Commodores lit up the crowd after forcing another turnover. A Harbison triple was followed by a Bella LaChance transition layup to bring the Commodores within 9, as they trailed 47-38. Reese answered quickly, however, finishing another layup through contact, plus the foul. 

Garraud responded immediately with a triple before a quick LSU miss put the ball in Harbison’s hand for another 3-pointer to bring the Commodores within six. Chants of “defense” rained in from the crowd before Reese slowed things down and drew a foul, which was Washington’s fourth. Reese sunk both free throws before Allen was charged with a technical foul, her second in as many games. LSU retained possession after hitting one of two free throws, but a turnover by Reese put the ball right back into Vanderbilt’s hands. 

A foul from LSU put the Commodores into the bonus and sent Allen to the line, but the freshman missed both. With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, LaChance fouled Morris, sending her to the line. After converting both, LSU led 55-44. The Commodores generated two wide-open looks from beyond the arc — one for Garruad and one for Brown — by virtue of an offensive rebound from Chambers but could not connect on either. LSU responded by connecting on a triple and a layup on the ensuing possession, increasing its lead to 60-44. 

On Vanderbilt’s final possession before the end of the third quarter, Harbison drew a foul and connected on one-of-two free throws, and the third frame ended with the Commodores trailing by 15, 60-45.

Williams started the final quarter’s scoring off with a craft euro step, but Chambers responded with a nice finish of her own. Reese snagged another putback layup on the offensive glass and kept LSU’s lead steady at 17. LSU took over in the paint, giving Vanderbilt’s offense minimal space to work with and finding seams within the Commodore’s defense on the other end. After a few more open layups from LSU, Ralph and Co. called timeout for the Commodores as they trailed 68-47.

Demi Washington cashed in on an open deep ball from the top of the key for her first points of the game to cut the lead below 20. After an LSU layup, Washington found nothing but net on another triple from the same spot. Both teams traded baskets, but with the score sitting at 80-60 with just over a minute left, the outcome was all but certain.

In the end, Reese (23 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks) and her dominant post-play were too much for Harbison (21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and the Commodores to overcome, as they dropped their final game in Memorial Gymnasium by a final score of 82-63.

“Ciaja’s a pro. Our team looked a lot different before the injuries, but she has never blinked,” said Ralph. “I want her to have a really special end of the season because she deserves it.”

Vanderbilt will be back in action on Sunday, Feb. 26 for its season finale on the road against the Auburn Tigers (14-12, 4-10).

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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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