Vanderbilt outlasts Albany 52-41, wins fourth straight home game

Led by Jordyn Cambridge’s 10 steals, the Commodore defense propelled Vanderbilt to a tough-fought victory against the Great Danes.

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Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt’s Brinae Alexander totaled 17 points on Wednesday against Albany. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Matthew Shipley, Staff Writer

After a close 74-67 loss on the road at Kansas on Dec. 5, Vanderbilt returned to Nashville on Wednesday and defeated Albany 52-41. While they were outshot 39 percent to 37 percent from the field, Vanderbilt caused 24 turnovers, including 17 steals, leading to their victory in the 11 a.m. CST tipoff game attended by hundreds of Nashville elementary school students for Education Day. 

“I’m really proud of our team for gutting out a win today,” head coach Shea Ralph said. “It was not pretty on either side of the floor, but we grinded it out and sometimes you have to do that to win a game.”

The Vanderbilt offense started off red-hot at the beginning of the game, making 4 of 5 3-point shots in the first four minutes, including three 3-pointers from senior Brinae Alexander. Those helped the Commodores mount a 14-5 lead that they would never give back. On the other side of the court, senior Jordyn Cambridge led Vanderbilt’s stingy 2-3 trapping zone defense early with five of the Commodores’ eight steals in the first quarter. However, six Vanderbilt turnovers toward the end of the quarter, including several traveling violations, plagued the Commodores’ ability to take commanding control over the Albany Great Danes, and the score remained within single digits as the period came to a close.

Perhaps the low point of the game for both teams, the second quarter marked significant shooting troubles as Vanderbilt shot a meager 20 percent from the field along with Albany’s even worse 18.6 percent. With continued turnovers, each team only scored five points in the quarter, leaving Vanderbilt up 25-16 at halftime. Ralph was appreciative of the defensive effort against Albany but hoped for more improvement on the offensive end.

“Today we looked stagnant on offense. Our decision-making wasn’t great. We were throwing the ball away,” Ralph said. “When we’ve got open shots, we’ve got to knock them in.”

The halftime break seemed to help Albany regroup as they left their shooting drought behind in the third quarter. The Great Danes shot 64 percent from the field and 60 percent from behind the arc to stay close with the Commodores. However, Vanderbilt’s six offensive rebounds leading to six second-chance points kept them with a seven-point lead heading into the final frame.

As the game came down the stretch with 5:10 left in the fourth quarter, the Commodores continued to hold onto a 44-37 lead over the Great Danes. Vanderbilt closed out the victory by only allowing four more points for the rest of the game and knocking down 6 of 9 free throws at the line.

Cambridge finished the game with an impressive double-double, scoring 10 points and collecting 10 steals to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. 

“Jordyn is a coach’s dream. She’s going to give you every single thing she has and compete until she just passes out on the floor,” Ralph added. “Jordyn is an integral part of our success. She has to be on the floor because she’s so impactful, not just scoring points. Players like her don’t get enough shine.”

Vanderbilt also had other key individual performances leading to the 11-point victory: Alexander led the Commodores in scoring with 17 points, and junior Kavlon Smith added eight points along with 11 rebounds.

After this fourth straight home win, Vanderbilt will take a 10-day break from competition during finals week and will be back in action at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. CST against Presbyterian.