Those tough road lessons seem to be paying off now for the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team.
For the second straight game, the Commodores let a big lead wither away in the second half. But when No. 24 Georgia got within one point with 2:56 to go, Vanderbilt once again responded.
The Commodores scored the last nine points of the game and pulled away for a 69-59 victory at Athens, Ga., on Thursday. It was their fourth straight victory, and with Kentucky’s loss to South Carolina, it moved them into second place in the Southeastern Conference standings.
It was the first time all season Vanderbilt (17-7, 8-3) won consecutive games on the road and it couldn’t have come at a better time, with No. 4 Tennessee coming into Nashville for a 5 p.m. tip-off on Sunday.
“I’m so proud of how much the team has learned,” coach Melanie Balcomb said. “I kept thinking back to Kentucky [on Jan. 23] when they made the same run and we fell apart. Our body language was just terrific and didn’t change. I think we know and have the confidence that we’ve been looking for. We have an identity now and we are stronger.”
Vanderbilt, which committed 22 turnovers, used an 11-1 run to take a 58-42 lead with just under nine minutes left. Georgia (18-6, 8-3) responded with a spurt of its own, though, and scored 17 of the game’s next 18 points.
After Georgia’s Meredith Mitchell missed an opportunity to tie the game when she missed the second of two free-throw attempts, Vanderbilt’s Stephanie Holzer hit a layup for a three-point VU advantage. Jasmine Lister then scored the Commodores’ next six points, which back-to back layups.
Lister, a freshman guard, finished with a career-high 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Hannah Tuomi scored 19 and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Holzer added 11 points.
Porsha Phillips was one of three Georgia players in double figures with a team-high 12 points.