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 improves to 3-0 with 73-70 win over Fairfield

Iyana Moore and Sacha Washington led the way once again as Shea Ralph and Co. continued their unbeaten nonconference streak.
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Chloe Pryor
Jordyn Cambridge past a Fairfield defender en route to a 73-70 victory on Nov. 12, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Chloe Pryor)

With a 73-70 victory over Fairfield (2-1), Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball improved to 3-0 to start the season for the second straight year under head coach Shea Ralph. Junior guard Iyana Moore led the way for the Commodores with 25 points and six rebounds while junior forward Sacha Washington carried the load down the stretch with 20 points on 16 free throw attempts.

“Obviously, today we were not our best,” head coach Shea Ralph said. “[But], we still walk out of our home gym with a win.”

Vanderbilt opened the game with a lineup of Jordyn Cambridge, Jordyn Oliver, Justine Pissott, Moore and Washington opposite a Stags team helmed by prolific freshman scorer Meghan Andersen. The Commodores boasted a notable size advantage versus a MAAC squad that’s heavily reliant on spacing a three-point shooting.

In the first quarter, Vanderbilt leaned hard into the Moore-Washington combo as the former shot the lights out from deep and the latter cleaned up down below with layups. The pair accounted for the Commodores’ first 15 points and ended the quarter with 17 of Vanderbilt’s 22.

“Knowing when to kick it out; knowing when to lay it up,” Washington said of what’s fueled her strong play this season.

Fairfield doesn’t have the roster depth, length or athleticism of Vanderbilt, but it’s a team that knows definitively what it is and what it needs to do to win — and that’s shoot the three-ball. 11 of the Stag’s 14 shots in the first quarter came from beyond the arc, but hitting those shots at a 27% clip left the team in a 22-17 hole at the end of the period.

In the second quarter, the Commodores changed up their defensive strategy by committing to a full-court, 2-1-2 press that saw Fairfield players double-teamed almost as soon as they touched the ball. That aggression led to a few open shots for Fairfield, but it largely caught the Stags like deers in headlights as they turned the ball over eight times in the quarter.

Even with the defensive change-up, the Commodores weren’t able to create much separation by halftime as they led 38-30. Moore continued to lead the way with 19 points at the end of the half, but the turnovers created on defense didn’t translate to many points as the Commodores struggled with their transition offense. After stripping the ball, the team would largely fail to get the ball down the court in time to exploit the coverage mismatch and would settle back into its default halfcourt scheme.

“Whatever the defense gave to me, I took it,” Moore said. “If it was a three, it was a three. If it was a two, it was a two.”

After the half, both teams got off to a sluggish start before a 6-0 Fairfield run cut the game to 45-38 and forced a timeout from Ralph. The Commodores responded immediately after the break as freshman Aga Makurat hit a three from the left wing and expanded Vanderbilt’s lead to 10. 

Even as the Commodores failed to record a bucket in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the quarter, six points off free throws propelled the team to a 59-45 advantage entering the final period. Vanderbilt finally broke the drought two minutes into the quarter as Moore rebounded a Cambridge corner three miss for a put-back layup.

The Commodores started to get their act together on offense as the quarter went on, but the progress stalled at the halfway point as a few blown layups and bricked open threes spiraled into a 10-0 run for the Stags. With 3:10 left in the game, Fairfield cut the Vanderbilt lead to 67-64.

After failing to score for several minutes, the Commodores responded as Cambridge sank two free throws to expand the lead to five. On the ensuing possession, freshman Madison Greene stripped the ball near the halfcourt and sprinted back for a layup that put the Commodores up 71-64.

A team like Fairfield lives by the three and dies by the three. When the shots don’t fall, as happened in the first three quarters, the team stalls out. When the shots do fall, they can beat anybody, anywhere. The shots started to fall at just the right time for the Stags, as the MAAC squad hit not one, but two in the span of a minute to cut the game to 71-70 with just 1:07 left on the clock.

After a turnover by Cambridge, Fairfield gained possession of the ball with 21 seconds to go and the shot clock turned off. The Stags’ Nicole Gallagher got a wide-open look from the top of the key that went just a hair too far left and rolled off the rim right into the hands of Washington. After getting fouled, the junior sank both free throws and closed the lid on Vanderbilt’s third victory.

In the postgame press conference, Ralph harped on the team’s need to be more disciplined.

“We’re better equipped [than in past years], but we’re not disciplined enough yet,” Ralph said. “That’s just the honest truth. We need to get a lot better there.”

With the 73-70 win, Vanderbilt improves to 3-0 to start the season. The Commodores will next be in action on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at home against Western Kentucky (2-0).

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About the Contributors
Jayce Pollard
Jayce Pollard, Non-revenue Sports Specialist
Jayce Pollard (‘25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in public policy and economics and minoring in data science and Spanish. Outside of writing for The Hustler, you can catch Jayce trying to learn the rules of soccer, hating on the Arkansas Razorbacks and being chronically on Twitter. He can be reached at [email protected]
Chloe Pryor
Chloe Pryor, Staff Writer and Photographer
Chloe Pryor (‘26) is from Fort Smith, Ark., and is double majoring in psychology and communications studies. When not writing for The Hustler, you can fund her reading, drawing or running late for class. You can reach her at [email protected].

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