Pass-happy Vanderbilt women cruise past Western Illinois

Monday, November 14, 2011 at 11:26pm

Vanderbilt outmatched Western Illinois on paper. It was no different on the court.

Taller and more physical, the Commodores, a 20-win team last year, dominated the smaller Leathernecks, who totaled eight wins in 2010-11.

Less than five minutes in the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt as Vanderbilt rolled to a 95-51 victory on Monday night in front of 3,195 at Memorial Gymnasium.

By halftime, the Commodores (2-0) raced out to a 55-17 halftime lead, scoring the most points in a first half since dropping 56 against Belmont on Nov. 23, 2007.

“I think you build confidence from this game,” Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. “This was the first game I’ve had everybody healthy and I could have gone to everybody on the bench, which I got to. I think all the pieces of the puzzle are in the room. I think everybody gives us something different. I like the team that I have.”

Ten Vanderbilt players scored, paced by Jasmine Lister’s 15. Her game-high combined with the offensive production from post players Stephanie Holzer (14 points), Tiffany Clarke (13) and Clair Watkins (10) was enough to outscore the entire Western Illinois squad.

Clarke was 6-of-7 from the field, making all six of her shots in the first half, as the Commodores dominated the paint, holding a 44-14 edge. They also dominated the glass, with a 48-33 advantage over the Leathernecks (1-1).

Guard Gabby Smith played her first game since suffering a concussion prior to the season opener. She accounted for five of Vanderbilt’s 28 assists, which was the most since 32 against Alabama on March 2, 2006. Lister led all Commodores with seven assists, matching a career-high the sophomore set in the season opener against Alabama A&M on Friday.

“I definitely think we gained trust,” said Clarke, who also suffered a concussion during the offseason. “We definitely gained a lot of trust with each other to carry over into the next game [against USC Upstate on Wednesday].”