Gainesville, Fla. – Ciaja Harbison had 18 points and five steals in the season when Vanderbilt ended a three-game streak in seven days with a 73-55 loss to Florida on Sunday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Marnelle Garraud scored 10 points and hit a season-high with six rebounds for the Commodores (9-12, 0-7 SEC) who played their second away game of the week.
Vanderbilt managed to cut a 25-point lead in Florida to just 13 in the fourth quarter before the Gators (13-7, 2-5 SEC) pulled away again.
After back-to-back blocks from Vandy sophomore Sacha Washington in the first minute, Florida scored the first six points to take an early lead. Freshman Jada Brown broke the ice for the Dores offensively with a 3-pointer, and a layup by Harbison put Vandy at 8-7.
But the Gators began to steadily increase their advantage. They held a 17-11 lead after a quarter and beat Vandy 25-10 in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 42-21 lead.
The Dores ended the third quarter on a 7-0 run, topped off by a Washington layup from a Harbison assist to reduce a 25-point deficit to under 20 and extended the run to 10-0, with Vandy coming along 13 points with 6:38 remaining so close. But Florida scored eight straight points to end the threat.
Nina Rickards led Florida with 15 points. Alberte Rimdal had 14 points and Ra Shaya Kyle added 13.
Vanderbilt shot 28 percent overall from the field (19 of 68) and was outplayed by Florida, 48-24.
• Harbison has made multiple steals in 11 of the 18 games she has played this season and has had double-digit chances in 14 games.
• Garraud has led the team in 15 double-digit scoring games.
• Washington finished the game with two blocks, her 11th game this season in which she had multiple blocks.
Katie Lou Samuelson made her debut as director of player development at Vanderbilt on Sunday. Head Coach Shea Ralph made the announcement before the game tipped, and Samuelson was with the team in Gainesville.
One of the most successful players in recent women’s college basketball history, Samuelson was a two-time All-American at UConn when Ralph was an assistant coach. She scored more than 2,000 points in her collegiate career, leaving Storrs fourth on the Huskies’ all-time scorer list.
Samuelson is currently in her fifth season in the WNBA. The former first-round draft pick averaged 9.7 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Los Angeles Sparks last season.
As Director of Player Development at Vanderbilt, Samuelson will support staff in all aspects of the program, including game preparation, player development and on-campus recruitment. She will remain an active member of the Sparks during the WNBA season while continuing on her duties and will return to Nashville with the Commodores during the WNBA offseason.
Vanderbilt’s all-time series lead narrowed to 34-28, and Florida improved to 14-13 in the Gainesville games. The Gators have won seven of their last eight encounters.
Next: Vanderbilt is hosting Texas A&M next Sunday at 12pm CT (SEC Network).
Tickets: Students will continue to receive free entry to all home basketball games. Additionally, single game sales, mini plans, and group ticket options are available. To view the action schedule, click here.