By David Dawson – Vanderbilt Athletics
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Moments after the Vanderbilt women secured a 67-52 victory over Alabama on Monday night, junior Marqu’es Webb already had the rest of her evening all mapped out.
“I’m getting an ice bath — and some sleep,” said Webb.
And she certainly deserved it.
Webb was one of several catalysts for the Commodores (14-5, 3-3), who used a dominating effort on the glass — and a 17-0 fourth-quarter run — to post their third win in the past four games.
Rachel Bell finished with a game-high 23 points, Webb added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Morgan Batey had 10 points and 10 rebounds as Vanderbilt improved its all-time home record against Alabama to 18-1.
Hannah Cook scored a team-high 13 for Alabama (13-7, 2-5).
The Commodores collected a whopping 24 offensive rebounds, setting a new season high, and easily won the battle on the boards, 44-24.
But despite those gaudy numbers, the victory didn’t come easily.
After building a 39-28 halftime lead, Vanderbilt made just 3-of-12 shots from the floor in the third quarter and Alabama outscored the Commodores 19-7 to move in front, 47-46. The Tide’s Shaquera Wade opened the fourth quarter with a basket in the paint to give Alabama a 49-46 edge with 9:23 remaining.
But then the Commodores came to life. Or back to life.
With Minta Spears, Batey, Bell and Webb all making big plays, Vanderbilt put together a 17-0 run over the next six-plus minutes to re-establish control. Webb scored six points during the run, and Spears hit a 3-pointer with a 6:36 to play that gave Vanderbilt the lead for good. Bell, who matched her career-high with six rebounds, capped the surge with a pull-up jumper with 2:42 left, giving Vanderbilt a 63-49 lead.
“It was like playing three different games tonight,” said head coach Melanie Balcomb. “It was one of the oddest games I think I’ve ever seen. But I was really proud of our team. To give (Alabama) all that momentum and then be able to take it back over — I was really proud of the way they handled themselves.”
Webb finished 6-of-10 from the floor and evenly-split her rebounds with five on offense and five on defense. Alabama’s defense had no answer for her down the stretch, and she scored a series of big baskets while the game was in the balance.
“The third quarter has kind of been our Achilles heel the past two games,” said Webb. “The third quarter was what hurt us against Tennessee (in Thursday’s 58-49 loss). But in the fourth quarter tonight, we just really banded together. Something just switched. I don’t know what it was, but I was glad it happened.”
Bell finished 11-of-19 from the floor for the Commodores, who made 9-of-12 shots in the final 10 minutes while downing Alabama for the second time this season. (Vanderbilt beat the Tide 54-48 in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 10). The Commodores have now won 20 of the last 22 meetings against Alabama.
“I’m proud that we came together tonight,” said Bell. “We didn’t think that we were going to lose, and during the fourth quarter we came out and made that run. It just tells you how together we are and how close we are.”
Two years ago, during Alabama’s most recent trip to Nashville, the Tide posted its first-ever win on the Commodores’ home floor. But Vanderbilt has won four straight against Alabama since then — including two wins in Tuscaloosa, one win in last year’s SEC Tournament and Monday’s victory.
Vanderbilt visits Kentucky on Thursday.