No. 4 Vanderbilt 90, Winthrop 39
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Final exams, not a lack of motivation, slowed No. 4 Vanderbilt Saturday night before the Commodores clicked into gear and routed winless Winthrop 90-39.
Vanderbilt (6-0) has struggled offensively this season and started slowly. Mara Cunningham scored seven of her 11 first-half points in giving Vandy a 9-2 lead with 13:55 to go.
Winthrop (0-4) stayed even with Vanderbilt on the boards with 17 apiece at halftime. But Vanderbilt took control in the second half and outrebounded the Lady Eagles 41-22 for the victory.
Sheri Sam led Vandy with 19 points. Cunningham had 15, Lisa Ostrom 14 and freshman Paige Redman 11 off the bench.
``It’s more like we had people taking exams at 4 o’clock before the game and missing pregame,″ Cunningham said of the slow start. ``And just trying to get your mindset on basketball instead of books. It’s not necessarily who we’re playing, it’s just getting yourself ready to play the game and compete at that level at game time.″
Vanderbilt forced Winthrop into 30 turnovers and outscored the Lady Eagles 35-4 off turnovers.
Coach Jim Foster credited his Commodores’ slow start to Winthrop’s play.
``Why don’t we not say it was a slow start. Give them credit. They were deliberate, took their time. They weren’t rattled, and we on the other hand were too quick to shoot the ball and we didn’t get in the rhythm of our offense,″ he said.
Winthrop was playing with Katherine Kitchen, last year’s Big South Conference rookie of the year, on the bench with a stress fracture. The Lady Eagles dressed only eight players, and coach Robin Muller pointed out that six were sophomores and freshmen.
``It’s hard enough to go against No. 4, but it’s even harder when you’re going with eight against their (12 players),″ Muller said.
The Lady Eagles’ tallest player was 6-foot-3 Jennifer Churchill, while the shortest player for Vanderbilt (6-0) was 5-foot-8 Ginger Jared. The taller Commodores blocked six shots and repeatedly intercepted passes.
Stacey Milton broke a scoring drought with a couple baskets, and Leigh-Ann Pursifull made a 3-pointer for Winthrop’s last tie at 9-9. The Commodores took control with a 17-4 run keyed by Sam who had six points in the stretch.
Vanderbilt forced 14 turnovers in the first half and converted only half despite shooting 45 percent. Redman’s 3-pointer a couple seconds before halftime gave the Commodores a 33-17 lead.
The Commodores opened the second half with an 18-4 run highlighted by three straight baskets by Sam. Vandy opened that lead to as much as 88-37 on a basket by Ostrom in the final two minutes.
Pursifull finished with 16 points in leading Winthrop.