NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It wasn't nearly as dramatic as a buzzer-beater, but the 3-pointer that Vanderbilt's Jasmine Lister made in the first half of Tuesday's game was crucial for the Commodores.
Off to a sluggish start, heavily-favored Vanderbilt found itself trailing East Tennessee State by four points with roughly six minutes left until halftime. But Lister's 3-pointer ignited the Commodores, setting off a 14-3 run that put NR/RV Vanderbilt in charge and set the tone for a 92-71 victory at Memorial Gym.
The 3-pointer was just one of many big shots for Lister. The senior guard finished with a game-high 26 points, four shy of matching her career high, while making 7-of-11 attempts from the floor and going 10-of-11 at the line to lead Vanderbilt (7-2) to its fourth straight win.
"(Lister) is just awesome," said head coach Melaine Balcomb. "Every day she is focused and puts in effort. The way she prepares is like a senior, and that is why we see consistency from her. When we weren't playing well, 'Jas' just kept playing harder and smarter."
Sophomore Heather Bowe also had a huge game, scoring a career-high 19 points and pulling down a team-high eight rebounds.
Bowe credited her teammates with making the right passes at the right times.
"Tonight, Morgan did a really good job feeding the post, and so did Christina and Jasmine," Bowe said."There was good chemistry on offense."
Senior Christina Foggie and freshman Kylee Smith added 13 points each in the win. Foggie also had five assists and four steals. Jasmine Jenkins finished with seven rebounds.
Vanderbilt's offense scored 58 points in the final 20 minutes -- representing the Commodores' highest output in a half this season -- thanks in large part to their ability to continuously get to the foul line and convert free throws. Vanderbilt went 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) from the line in the second half and was 29-of-38 (76.3 percent) for the game.
The victory enabled the Commodores to remain in a positive mind-set as they head into a long break that encompasses final exams. Vanderbilt doesn't play again until Dec. 15, when the Commodores visit Hartford.
"I think it was necessary to go into this break with a win and ... to know what we need to work on over the break, too," said Lister."We'll take the good and the bad with this win."
Despite the lopsided final score, ETSU (2-5) certainly didn't roll over the Commodores. The feisty Bucs scored 44 points in the second half, and had four players finish the game in double figures. Brianna McQueen led the way with 16 points.
Lister said the Commodores weren't especially pleased with their performance, especially in the first half.
"We just came flat at the start of the game, and we weren't taking away their strengths.We were letting ETSU get whatever they wanted," she said."We weren't doing what Vanderbilt basketball does. ... (But) in the second half, we got our hands up a lot more on defense, and we were also feeding the posts a lot more."
Despite struggling with their shooting from the floor in the first 20 minutes, the Commodores carried a 34-27 lead into the half, and Foggie opened the second half with a 3-pointer that pushed the advantage to double-digits for the first time, 37-27.
ETSU answered with five straight points to cut the lead to 37-32 but Vanderbilt soon begin to pull away, putting together an 11-2 run that featured Lister and Smith scoring two baskets each. The big run gave Vanderbilt a 48-34 lead with 15:16 left in the game.
The teams essentially traded baskets for the game's first 12 minutes -- with five ties and six lead changes in that span -- and were tied at 20-20 with 7:53 left before halftime before the Commodores closed the half on a 14-3 surge to take a 34-27 lead into the locker room.