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.

Women’s Basketball: 2023-24 Schedule Preview

After leading Vanderbilt to back-to-back 10+ win seasons for the first time in six years, head coach Shea Ralph looks for her squad to take the next step.
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Michael Tung
Coach Shea Ralph calls a play, as photographed on Feb. 5. 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Michael Tung)

Today, the Vanderbilt Commodores will tip off their third season in the Shea Ralph era. Last year, Vanderbilt concluded its season with a 12-19 record, winning just three SEC conference games.

Last year’s Commodores got off to a fast start and won their first five matchups. After that, though, the schedule became tougher, and Vanderbilt would go on to lose five of its next six nonconference games. The team then finished non-conference play on a three-game winning streak, beating a trio of Louisiana Tech, Lipscomb and Alabama A&M

On Dec. 29, SEC play began. The Commodores would not find themselves back in the win column until exactly a month later, where they beat Texas A&M thanks to a historical 41-point, 5-steal performance from Ciaja Harbison. 

On Feb. 9, Ralph and Co. were able to hone some Memorial Magic and upset Arkansas by a score of 78-70. Ralph’s third and final SEC win of the season would come 10 days later, when Vanderbilt blew out Kentucky in front of the Commodore faithful

With their 12 victories, the Commodores secured back-to-back seasons of ten or more wins for the first time since 2015-16 and 2016-17. The season was still, by many means, disappointing — at least one that certainly didn’t live up to the high standards Ralph has for this organization. It is important to note, though, that this team never rolled over in the wake of crushing injuries. Before the season even started, Vanderbilt lost both Jordyn Cambridge and Iyana Moore, who had promise of being key contributors for the team as they were the two leading scorers from the 2021-22 season.

This year, a now healthy duo of Cambridge and Moore highlight the group of players that this team will return. Joining them will be Bella LaChance, Sacha Washington, Ryanne Allen and Jada Brown. Coming in to bolster the returning core will be Duke transfer Jordyn Oliver and Tennessee transfer Justine Pissot. Oliver, a former McDonald’s All-American, played in every game for the Blue Devils last season, helping them to a 26-7 record and a first round NCAA Tournament win over Iona. Pissot was a freshman at UTK last season, playing 27 games and contributing to two Tennessee tournament wins over Saint Louis and Toledo. 

Vanderbilt hopes that adding the likes of Oliver and Pissot will help to fill the large shoes of Ciaja Harbison and Marnelle Garraud, who both played outstanding graduate seasons for the Commodores last year after four years at Saint Louis and Boston College, respectively. 

Rounding out the roster is a class of five freshmen: Madison Greene, Bailey Gilmore, Khamil Pierre, Aiyana Mitchell and Aga Makurat. 

The return of Cambridge is a huge reason for for Vanderbilt’s high hopes this season. Last time Cambridge was on the floor, she set the Commodores’ single-season record for steals (129) en route to being named to the All-SEC Defensive Team for the second time in her career.

If injuries don’t take another significant toll on the Commodores this season, they have a chance to make a huge leap from last year, especially in conference play.

This morning, Ralph will look to join Melanie Balcomb as the only Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball coach to win all three season openers to begin a tenure. It will all begin at 11 a.m. CST when the Commodores play host to the Kennesaw State Owls at Memorial Gymnasium.

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About the Contributors
Jonah Barbin
Jonah Barbin, Sports Podcast Producer
Jonah Barbin (‘25) is majoring in human and organizational development and cinema and media studies. In addition to writing about sports, you can catch him acting, scouring the fantasy football waiver wire, playing golf and fantasizing about what Odell Beckham Jr.’s career would have been if the Giants never traded him. You can reach him at [email protected].
Michael Tung
Michael Tung, Staff Photographer
Michael Tung ('26) is majoring in computer science. He is currently a staff photographer and is originally from Dublin, Ohio. His interests are photography, engineering, all things aerospace and music. He can be reached at [email protected]
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