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 set to visit Missouri in penultimate SEC contest

Vanderbilt looks to start a winning streak and keep NCAA Tournament hopes alive on Thursday, Feb. 29, as they hit the road for a pivotal rematch with the Missouri Tigers.
Savannah Walske
Cambridge handles the ball while running down the court, as photographed on Feb. 18, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Savannah Walske)

On Monday night, Shea Ralph’s Commodores got back in the win column and defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks, 62-53. Vanderbilt clinched its first 20-win season in over a decade thanks to a team-high 12 points from Jordyn Oliver and an offensive surge in the third quarter. The Commodores outrebounded Arkansas by 15, something they will look to continue as the season nears its end.

Now, the team looks ahead to a rematch with Missouri, a game they must win if they hope to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Missouri is currently in last place in the SEC, but the Tigers narrowly defeated Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym back in January. The Tigers come into this contest on an eight-game losing streak, and Vanderbilt will look to take advantage.

The Tigers currently sit at 11-15 (2-11) and have not won a game since mid-January. However, with scoring options like Hayley Frank and Ashton Judd, who combined for 36 points against Vanderbilt in January, Missouri won’t be a pushover for the Commodores. 

Missouri’s offense runs through Mama Dembele. The senior guard averages 10 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists per contest. Vanderbilt guard Jordyn Cambridge will have her work cut out for her as she attempts to slow down Dembele and the Tiger offense. Missouri excels when Dembele is able to distribute the ball to forward Frank. Frank is the team’s leading scorer, averaging over 17 points per game. Vanderbilt’s forwards will have to keep Frank out of the paint but also deny her open looks from beyond the arc, where she shoots over 38%.

Missouri, much like the Commodores, fields one of the smaller lineups in the SEC. Five guards see more than 20 minutes per game on the court, with Frank being the only forward who gets similar amounts of playing time. As a result, Vanderbilt forward and team rebounding leader Sacha Washington should find herself with favorable matchups. On the offensive side of the ball, Vanderbilt will have to run through Washington and try to dominate Missouri on the glass.

The game will be won and lost from the 3-point line. As a team, Missouri shoots at a 36.2% clip from deep. The Commodores shoot it slightly worse, coming into Thursday shooting just over 32% from behind the arc. Whichever team will be able to create and knock down more open looks from the 3-point line will have a much easier time controlling the game and coming out victorious.

Vanderbilt’s biggest key to success will be maintaining its momentum from Monday night. In a game where they didn’t have their best shooting night, the Commodores stayed competitive and played physical basketball for 40 minutes. If Vanderbilt can follow that same formula and play with intensity, it will come out of Missouri with a winning streak and head home for the SEC finale on a high note. 

At this point in Vanderbilt’s season, every game is the biggest game of the year. In ESPN’s latest women’s bracketology update, Vanderbilt was slated as a first four out team in the big dance. As a result, a loss to Missouri would drop Ralph’s team further on the wrong side of the bubble and force them to make up ground in the SEC Tournament. If the Commodores can win, however, they can make up for their previous loss to Missouri and prove to the committee that they belong in the madness.

Aside from NCAA Tournament implications, the game against Missouri can go a long way in determining Vanderbilt’s seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament. The Commodores are currently tied for 6th place in the conference and in position to have a bye, but a win or a loss will surely move their place in the SEC’s volatile standings. 

Vanderbilt will tip off against Missouri at 7:00 p.m. CST on Thursday, Feb. 29.

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About the Contributors
Ari Shamberg
Ari Shamberg, Staff Writer
Ari Shamberg (‘27) is from Deerfield, Ill., and studies human and organizational development with a minor in Spanish. When not writing for The Hustler, he loves watching Chicago sports (Go White Sox!) and trying out new restaurants. He can be reached at [email protected].
Savannah Walske
Savannah Walske, Staff Photographer
Savannah Walske (‘26) is from San Francisco and is double majoring in psychology and Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. When not shooting for The Hustler, you can find her playing guitar, photographing pretty Californian landscapes and obsessing over her dog. You can contact her at [email protected].
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