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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 takes down Louisiana Tech in return to Memorial Gymnasium, 71-63

The Commodores returned home after a 3-game road stint to defeat the Bulldogs.
Jordyn+Cambridge+cuts+to+the+rim+during+Vanderbilts+71-63+win+over+Louisiana+Tech%2C+as+photographed+on+Dec.+3%2C+2023.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FBarrie+Barto%29
Barrie Barto
Jordyn Cambridge cuts to the rim during Vanderbilt’s 71-63 win over Louisiana Tech, as photographed on Dec. 3, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto)

It was a successful homecoming for head coach Shea Ralph and Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball, coasting to a victory over Louisiana Tech by a score of 71-63. The Commodores were led, once again, by the stellar play of Sacha Washington, who contributed a monster game, scoring 33 points to go with 6 rebounds and 8 steals. 

Washington won the opening tip for the Black and Gold, who wasted no time on their opening possession. Two offensive rebounds from Washington led to a slick dime from Justine Pissott to Jordyn Oliver for two early points. A Washington steal and a no-look dime from Oliver to Washington put the Commodores up four points early. The Bulldogs answered after an Anna Roberson layup, but Washington continued to impose herself in the paint with a layup through contact. Silvia Nativi nailed a triple to make the score 6-5, but Washington answered with another bucket and a 1-for-2 trip to the free throw line. 

Still, it was the Bulldogs’ 3-point shooting that kept them in it early as Salma Bates cashed a triple from the right corner. Once again, though, Washington took advantage of her advantage down low, converting again. By the first media timeout halfway through the first quarter, Washington had nine points to go with two rebounds and two steals.

Louisiana Tech game out of the commercial break strong with a 5-0 run sparked by a triple and a transition layup from Bates. Jordyn Cambridge ended the run with a nifty layup, and a stop on the defensive end led to an Aga Makurat layup. Washington took things back into her own hands on the following possession, putting her shoulder down and getting to the rim with ease to extend Vanderbilt’s lead. Back-and-forth empty possession from both teams gave Vanderbilt the chance to hold for the last shot, but a turnover with three seconds remaining put a damper on that hope. An impressive hustle play from Camrbidge to intercept the inbounds pass from the Bulldogs led to a drawn foul and two made free throws, and the first quarter horn sounded with the jumbotron flashing a score of 19-16 in favor of Vanderbilt. 

Vanderbilt found its first points of the second quarter behind some unselfish ball movement ending with a Washington bucket down low. She electrified the Vanderbilt bench with a strong block ff of a Mackenzii Wurm jumper, and then went right back down the court for another score. Just over two minutes into the second quarter, Washington had already reached 15 points. A huge and-1 for Louisiana Tech’s Anna Roberson kept the Bulldogs within striking range at 23-20. 

Both teams traded misses for the next few possessions before Oliver fouled Bates in the act of shooting a 3-pointer. Bates was slow to get up, but eventually made her way to the charity stripe and sunk all three attempts to tie the game at 23. Vanderbilt’s offensive woes continued to mount as it failed to convert on the following possession, but a big defensive stop and a triple from Madison Greene — the team’s first of the game — right before the media timeout but the Commodores back up three. 

Washington went back to work in the paint following the timeout, banking in a lefty layup and manipulating the pick-and-roll for two more baskets. Some sloppy offensive play from the Bulldogs led to a scoring drought of over three minutes and a 7-0 Vanderbilt run, but a Kate Thompson free throw ended that run. Both sides ended the second quarter ice cold, as Vanderbilt score just 11 points to Louisiana Tech’s 10. 

Ralph and Co. held a 30-26 lead entering the locker room despite the offense sputtering at times throughout the first half. It was all Washington, all-day for the Commodores, as the junior center contributed 19 points, 4 steals, 2 rebounds and a block. Still, Vanderbilt shot just 1-of-10 from downtown and turned the ball over six times through the first two frames. Without Washington, the Commodores were 4-of-22 from the field overall. Vanderbilt’s swarming defense kept them afloat, forcing 12 turnovers and holding the Bulldogs to just 39% shooting from the field and 30% from 3-point range. 

The third quarter began as Oliver inbounded to Cambridge, but an airball from the latter followed by a turnover from Iyana Moore on the next possession kept the Commodores scoreless to start things off. It was once again Washington who provided Vanderbilt with offense, getting down low and banking in a layup for either side’s first basket of the third quarter. Vanderbilt’s defense continued to stymie the Bulldogs, keeping them scoreless for the first three minutes of the frame. Fast defensive rotations and helping on shooters caused Louisiana Tech to go deep into the shot-clock and force off-balance shots as time expired. 

At the media break, the Commodores led 35-26. Pissott connected on her first points of the game with a layup, and Greene followed up with another 3-pointer, her second of the game, as Vanderbilt seemingly began to pull away. Roberson answered with a corner triple of her own, but Pissott came right back with another 3-pointer as both offenses started to heat up. Fresh out of the media timeout, Washington nabbed her fifth steal of the game, leading to another Greene triple.

“Maddy Greene is gonna be a monster when she figures out how good she is. She has a great role model in Jordyn Cambridge,” Ralph said. “There’s something inside her, she has it. It’s not something I can coach.”

On the ensuing possession, Washington got into the passing lane and broke away for a wide open layup as the Commodores began to pull away, extending their lead to 17 points. Cambridge got in on the scoring action with a nifty move to the hoop, but Louisiana Tech seemed determined to hang around, scoring on offense and forcing a turnover via a charge taken on defense. 

Vanderbilt had caught fire midway through the third quarter, and Makurat made sure that fire didn’t go out, cashing in on another deep ball from the same spot as her first. The third quarter ended with a quick midrange jumper from Louisiana Tech, cutting the lead to 13 as the scoreboard showed 54-41 in favor of the home team. Another steal from Washington — one where she simply ripped the ball out of a Bulldog’s hands, led to an easy transition layup from Oliver. Washington followed it up with a down-low bucket of her own on the next possession to extend her squad’s lead to 15. 

Washington’s 28th point came on yet another shifty-post move, marking a new career-high for her. Both teams traded baskets on the following possessions, but Washington was simply too much down low for the Bulldogs, who were unable to get the defensive stops they needed to close the double-digit gap. 

With just under four minutes remaining, the Commodores maintained a 13-point lead at 64-51. Despite a nice mid-range jumper from Roberson, the Bulldogs failed to gain any ground as Washington floated in back-to-back layups. 

Washington’s second layup was all but the icing on the cake as Vanderbilt was up by 15 points with just 2:17 left on the clock. Both teams went back and forth for the remainder of the game, but the Bulldogs only brought it within single digits during the waning moments of the game, and Vanderbilt left with the victory, 71-63. Washington led the Commodores with 33 points and 8 steals, both career-highs, and Greene added a career-high in points with 17, behind 3-of-7 shooting from downtown.

“The things we can control; our effort, our energy, are a direct result of how we practice. For me, I want us to maximize our full potential as a team,” Ralph said. “I don’t care what that looks like on a stat sheet. It has nothing to do with making shots, and everything to do with our effort. As much as I know we have improved, we still haven’t found our stride with that.”

Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball will look to keep it going as it gears up to take on Butler on the road on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. CST.

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About the Contributors
Aiden Rutman, Senior Staff Writer
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].
Barrie Barto, Senior Staff Photographer
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with minors in communication of science & technology and neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. Outside of The Hustler, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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