Vanderbilt drops rival MTSU
Commodores use 20-5 second-half run to pull away for win
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Coach Melanie Balcomb might want to schedule Middle Tennessee again after the way her Vanderbilt Commodores handled the Blue Raiders in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Jasmine Lister scored 19 points and led seventh-seeded Vanderbilt past their in-state competition 60-46 Sunday.
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These teams hadn’t met since 1992 despite being about 40 miles apart. Vanderbilt (23-9) led 25-18 at halftime and used a 20-5 run in the second half to pull away from 10th-seeded Middle Tennessee.
Vanderbilt will play either second-seeded Duke or Samford on Tuesday night.
Kortni Jones led Middle Tennessee (26-7) with 12 points and Ebony Rowe had 10 with 16 rebounds as the Blue Raiders lost their third consecutive opening NCAA game to a Southeastern Conference team.
Middle Tennessee appeared to have more fans in Vanderbilt’s steamy Memorial Gym on a day when temperatures reached the low 80s, and the Blue Raiders used that support to go on a 10-3 run to open the second half in tying the score at 28.
Jones hit two 3-pointers, while Icelyn Elie made a layup and Shanice Cason converted two free throws.
That’s as close as Middle Tennessee could get, even though the Blue Raiders outrebounded Vanderbilt 41-39. Elie also pulled down 16 boards for the Blue Raiders and scored seven points.
But Vanderbilt shot 42.1 percent to 28.1 percent for Middle Tennessee.