Commodores lose third straight game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The second-ranked LSU Lady Tigers have many goals this season. While beating Vanderbilt (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) on its home court might not be anywhere near the top, coach Pokey Chatman knows it's very important.

Sylvia Fowles scored 20 of her 22 points in the second half and LSU never trailed Sunday in beating Vanderbilt 79-68, the Lady Tigers' fourth straight victory and only their third ever in Nashville.

Vanderbilt (13-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) had dominated this series in recent years, winning nine of the last 11 games. Against LSU, the Commodores simply couldn't make a game of it in losing their third straight and first at home to the Lady Tigers since Jan. 21, 1999.

"It's huge," Chatman said. "You think about the past, which you don't like to dwell on, but it's there. Kids know you kind of get that monkey off your back. ... To weather that in the process is huge, and it goes a long way in how we want to finish things up this year."

Seimone Augustus scored 20 points for LSU (18-1, 5-0), which is off to its best SEC start ever. Wendlyn Jones had 13 points, and Scholanda Hoston added 11.

"We're excited about starting out 5-0, and there's still a lot more work to go and we understand that," Augustus said.

In a matchup of the SEC's best shooting teams and top scoring defenses, the Lady Tigers had the edge as they held Vanderbilt to its worst shooting performance this season at 39.7 percent (23-of-58).

"We shot poorly because we were hesitant," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "In a lot of positions, especially from the high post and from 3-point, we were hesitant and at times looked confused, and that's not a good situation on offense against a team like LSU."

The Commodores lost the ball on a turnover off the opening tip, and that set the tone. After Vandy tied it at 4, Augustus' layup put the Lady Tigers ahead to stay on a court where they haven't had much success.

Dee Davis led Vanderbilt with 24 points. Ashley Earley and Carla Thomas each added 14. Earley said the Commodores hurt themselves and pointed out they weren't blown out despite such a poor offensive performance.

"They have a Sylvia Fowles. We don't have that. They're more athletic. We have to run our offenses. We can't just shoot and go rebound. We're not Sylvia Fowles. We don't have that presence in the paint," Earley said.

Vandy certainly could have used Fowles. She played only five minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls but then played 17 minutes of the second half without picking up another foul. She helped foul out Thomas before taking advantage of the shorter Commodores.

"It's the balancing act of keeping her on the floor," Chatman said. "She was extremely important to us how she defended their 5 player, which allowed us to help more on Earley. She was big, took up space and got it done on the offensive end of the floor."

The Commodores got into foul trouble early, and guard Katie Antony played only two minutes of the first half after picking up two quick fouls.

LSU led by as much as 14 in the first half before Vanderbilt forced five turnovers down the stretch and pulled within seven four times. The Commodores couldn't get closer than that as Augustus hit a jumper with 4.1 seconds left for a 36-27 lead at halftime.

The Commodores could not cut the deficit to single digits after intermission, pulling within 10 on a three-point play by Earley with 6:59 to go.

LSU responded with a 7-0 spurt capped by a free throw by Fowles with 5:42 left. Tillie Willis hit a pair of free throws with 2:27 left for LSU's biggest lead at 74-56.