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.

Dancing ‘Dores: Previewing Vanderbilt’s First Four matchup against Columbia

Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball travels to Blacksburg, Va. to play Columbia in a First Four matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
Savannah Walske
The team celebrates a win for their final home game of the season, as photographed on March 3, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Savannah Walske)

On March 17, 2024, the NCAA Selection Committee selected the Vanderbilt Women’s basketball team for an at-large bid for the first time in 10 years. The Commodores earned a No. 12 seed in the Portland Regional 3. They will play Columbia University on Wednesday, March 19, in Blacksburg, Va., in a First Four matchup for the right to play the No. 5 seed Baylor University in the round of 64.

The Commodores will look to bounce back from an early and disappointing elimination from the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the hands of Florida. In their game against the Gators, despite Iyana Moore and Khamil Pierre putting up 20 and 16 points, respectively, the Commodores could not contain Florida senior Aliyah Matharu, who posted 35 points of her own. However, this is March and the NCAA tournament; a team’s record is wiped clean and anything is possible. The Commodores have a solid foundation of both offensive and defensive production against talented teams which has allowed them to collect four NET top-50 rankings wins and 11 NET top-100 wins. Vanderbilt will rely on this solid foundation to get them through its first test and advance to the round of 64. 

The Columbia Lions will enter the tournament with a 21-6 (13-1 Ivy) record. They earned an at-large bid after losing to Princeton in the Ivy League Tournament Championship. Before its loss, Columbia had won 21 of its last 23 games and 11 straight.  

The Columbia offense is led by the Ivy League Player of the Year: senior guard Abbey Hsu. Currently, Hsu is averaging 20.6 points and 7.4 assists per game. Hsu is a threat from the midrange and beyond the arc, where she is ranked eighth nationally in three-point shots made per game (three). Hsu will be a formidable matchup for Vanderbilt’s Jordyn Cambridge, who is averaging 12 points, six rebounds and three steals per game. Cambridge is a defensive force for the Commodores. Her 111 steals this season rank her third in NCAA Division I and have led to Naismith Defensive Player of the Year semifinalist and All-SEC defensive team honors this year. These two guards will be battling all night to see who can create the most offensive opportunities for their team and shut each other down on the other end of the court. 

In addition to Hsu, junior captain and guard Kitty Henderson is a key contributor for the Lions. This year, Henderson has averaged 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Vanderbilt will look to Moore, averaging 13.9 points per game, to step up and counter the production that Columbia will be getting from Henderson.  

Vanderbilt will also look to use its size against Columbia. Almost all season, Vanderbilt forwards Sacha Washington and Pierre were undersized compared to their SEC counterparts. This is not the case with their matchup against Columbia, where Pierre and Washington are taller than any player on the Columbia roster. If Pierre and Washington can match the strong performances they have been having on the inside, it is hard to imagine the Commodores coming up short. Additionally, forward Justine Pissott and guard Aga Makurat add an option for coach Shea Ralph to put length and range on the perimeter which will be a mismatch for Columbia.

Although Vanderbilt hasn’t made a tournament appearance in 10 years, Vanderbilt possesses tournament experience in their coaching staff. Head coach Shea Ralph has been to the tournament as a player, where she won a national championship, and as a coach, winning five national championships as an assistant at UConn. While Columbia head coach Megan Griffith has been to the NCAA Tournament on the coaching staff of Princeton, Ralph has more experience going deep into the tournament. Undoubtedly, both coaches will try to get their team to play their best basketball on the biggest stage to secure a historic win.

All season, this Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball team has played some of their best basketball on the road with 10 wins, two of which came at a neutral site. The Commodores will need to continue that strong play to get past Columbia and continue their tournament run. 

Vanderbilt tips off against No. 12 Columbia at 8 p.m. CDT at Virginia Tech’s Cassell Coliseum. 

Leave a comment
About the Contributors
Grace Hall
Grace Hall, Deputy Sports Editor
Grace Hall (‘26) is from Belfast, Maine, and is majoring in public policy studies in the College of Arts and Science. Grace is also the vice-president of the Vanderbilt Club Field Hockey Team. When not writing for The Hustler you can find her watching the Boston Red Sox or Celtics, reading or at a concert. You can reach her 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].
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments