Vanderbilt was well rested but not ready for a fight.
After sitting idle for a week, the Commodores failed to respond to a more aggressive 10th-ranked Kentucky team and suffered a 75-53 loss on Sunday at Memorial Gymnasium. It was the most lopsided loss of the season for a team that has lost five of eight.
Making things worse for Vanderbilt (15-8, 5-5 Southeastern Conference), shooting guard Christina Foggie sustained an injury to her right knee with 4:43 left. The SEC’s sixth-leading scorer was helped off the court before being carried to the locker room. She was expected to undergo an MRI on Sunday night.
The Wildcats (21-3, 9-2), the reigning Southeastern Conference champions, were less than three days removed from an overtime win on the road against Arkansas. But they flexed their muscle early and often en route to a fifth straight win in the series.
Kentucky won the rebounding battle 39-27 overall and grabbed 18 offensive boards.
Vanderbilt committed 15 of its 24 turnovers in the first half and didn’t shoot a free throw before halftime. The Commodores entered shooting an SEC-best 79.7 percent in league games but struggled to get to the foul line. Eleven of their 13 free throw attempts – they made 10 – came in the final 10 minutes.
“They were a bit more physical than us,” guard Jasmine Lister said. “We let them dictate what we wanted to do on offense and on defense. We were coming up with empty baskets because we weren’t creating situations to where we could get to the free-throw line. We started off decent but they just kept fighting back and fighting back. We really didn’t see this coming.”
Tiffany Clarke led Vanderbilt with 20 points and nine rebounds. Her layup with 8:30 left in the first half gave the Commodores their last lead at 17-15. From there, Kentucky jumped in front for good with an 11-0 run. Vanderbilt went scoreless for the next five-plus minutes and turned the ball over on four straight possessions.
With six seconds left before halftime, A’dia Mathies sank an uncontested 3-pointer in the corner for a 31-22 Kentucky lead at the break. Mathies, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, made five 3-pointers and scored a season-high 28 points.
The senior helped thwart a rally by the Commodores, who cut it to six twice early in the second half. Kentucky answered both times and snuffed out the upset with a 19-6 run. Mathies capped off the spurt with five straight points for a 59-40 lead with 8:38 remaining.
“We had our hands down most of the time she shot it,” coach Melanie Balcomb said. “That was not our game plan. We wanted to take away the 3 first and make her put it on the floor. That 3 to the end half was a really big one. Having her hitting that 3 was disappointing.”
Bria Goss scored points and Samarie Walker had 10 points and 13 rebounds as four Kentucky players scored in double figures.
Lister scored 10 points for Vanderbilt, which fell to 1-6 against teams currently among the top 25. Foggie added 12 points before she was injured in a collision with Azia Bishop, who was diving for a loose ball in front of the Wildcats’ bench. Foggie stayed on the floor for several moments before being helped off the court. The junior led the SEC in scoring last year and has averaged 15.9 points per game this season.
“She looked like she was in pain so we certainly hope she is going to be all right,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She is a great player and really a tough competitor.”