Vanderbilt 60, Middle Tennessee 46
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
Middle Tennessee brought a large contingent of fans to Memorial Gym on the short trip from Murfreesboro for the NCAA tournament game. Being close to home with lots of support just wasn't enough.
Vanderbilt beat the 10th-seeded Blue Raiders 60-46 Sunday, the third straight year Middle Tennessee has lost to a Southeastern Conference team in the first round.
''I can't fault my kids' effort,'' Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell said. ''They gave me everything they had.''
Insell said the game plan was good and worked at times especially on Vanderbilt guard Christina Foggie - the SEC's leading scorer this season. Foggie just had seven points for Vanderbilt (23-9).
''We did exactly what we needed to do,'' Insell said. ''We had three of their post players with three fouls (in the first half) and we did a pretty good job with Foggie.''
Like Insell, Kortni Jones couldn't find fault with the Blue Raiders' effort. This was Middle Tennessee's 15th overall appearance in the NCAA tournament, and the Blue Raiders fell to 5-15 in those games.
''It was just a matter of not executing,'' Jones said. ''Our coaching staff harped on us being able to execute the offense and being coachable, and I think we kind of went away from that in the first half.''
These teams hadn't met since 1992 despite being about 40 miles apart.
Jasmine Lister scored 19 points to pace Vanderbilt, which led 25-18 at halftime and used a 20-5 run in the second half to pull away.
Vanderbilt will play either second-seeded Duke or Samford on Tuesday night.
Middle Tennessee appeared to have more fans in Vanderbilt's steamy gym and used that support to go on a 10-3 run to open the second half and tie the score at 28.
Jones hit two 3-pointers, while Icelyn Elie hit a layup and Shanice Cason converted two free throws.
That's as close as Middle Tennessee could get.
Jones led Middle Tennessee (26-7) with 12 points and Ebony Rowe had 10 points with 16 rebounds. Despite being smaller than Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee was able to outrebound the hosts 41-39.
Elie also pulled down 16 boards for the Blue Raiders and scored seven points.
Middle Tennessee shot only 28.1 percent for the game to 42.1 percent for Vanderbilt