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Iyana Moore

The Vanderbilt women’s basketball team experienced the highs and lows of March basketball over the past two days.

After securing their first SEC Tournament win since 2016 off the back of the program’s first-ever triple-double from Jordyn Cambridge on Wednesday, the No. 13-seeded Commodores (14-18) fell to No. 5 Florida (21-9) 53-52 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

Despite leading for 38:52, Vanderbilt’s season came to an end in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

“You hope to put yourself in position there at the end of the game where it’s not a one-point game or a tie,” Vanderbilt head coach Shea Ralph said. “You have to make plays the whole game.” 

Vanderbilt held a 44-33 lead after three quarters, but Florida came charging back in the fourth period, outscoring the Commodores 20-8 in the final frame. 

Florida’s Nina Rickards hit a pair of free throws to cap off the run and give the Gators their first lead of the contest with just eight seconds remaining. Vanderbilt had two chances to win the game but were unable to score the winning basket. 

The ending of the game left Ralph disappointed, both in the team’s execution and some of the calls that dictated the outcome.

“I’ve been instructed several times not to talk about the officiating on my walk here,” she stated. “So, I won’t say anything about it, but I can tell you — if you want to look back at my reaction, you’ll get exactly what I think about it. But at the end of the day, I talk to these guys all the time about controlling what you can control, and I have to say that for myself too.” 

Brinae Alexander, a Riverdale product, paced Vanderbilt with 18 points and four steals. Freshman Iyana Moore, a former Blackman guard, was the only other Commodore to score in double-figures. She added 16 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. 

Alexander, a senior and Vanderbilt’s leading scorer (15.1 points per game), said that she plans to be back for one final year in the black and gold.

“I don’t think it’s too harsh, but I don’t think we’re done,” she said. “I certainly am not done.”

The Commodores tied for the highest win total since the 2015-16 season and earned their best postseason result in that period. Alexander believes the foundation Ralph has built is already proving to be positive. 

“It’s definitely a step forward than previous years, and I am thankful for coach and her staff coming in and taking over,” Alexander added. “But I am really proud of my teammates. I’m proud of our growth throughout the season.”

The SEC Tournament continues on Friday with the quarterfinal games, in which each of the top eight seeds will be in action. The semifinals will take place on Saturday, with the final set for Sunday at 1 p.m.