Vanderbilt is coming … to town

LA Tech will host Vandy tonight at 6 p.m. at the TAC. (Courtesy Photo)

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

It may not be Santa Claus, but it is still pretty exciting.

Louisiana Tech will host SEC foe Vanderbilt tonight at 6 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center in a Blue Out.

Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. on Karl Malone Court. The game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on 97.7 FM with Kyle Roberts providing a call of the action.

Louisiana Tech moved to 6-2 for the third straight season with a non-conference home win over Alcorn State last Saturday, 70-59. Tech has now won 18 straight regular-season non-conference games at home dating back to 2019. 

The Techsters boast a top-30 scoring defense in the country, at 54.1 ppg, and allow just .349 shooting for opponents, which ranks 33rd in the NCAA.

Tech’s one-two punch at the point guard position in Silvia Nativi and Salma Bates have the Techsters atop Conference USA in assists per game at 15.8. Nativi ranks No. 7 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.67. Bates and Nativi have totaled 57 assists to just 26 turnovers on the year.

Tech is just outside the nation’s top-50 (No. 51) in field goal percentage at 45 percent and are shooting 76 percent from the line, which is good for No. 45 in the country.

Vanderbilt (6-5) began the season with five straight wins before dropping five of their last six.

The Commodores are led by second-year head coach Shea Ralph, who has seven national titles to her name as both a coach and a player. The former All-American and Sports Illustrated Player of the Year lettered four years at UConn, winning the 2000 National Championship before being selected into the 2001 WNBA draft.

Ralph returned to UConn as an assistant coach to help guide the Huskies to six national titles before taking over at Vanderbilt, where she led the Commodores to a 16-19 campaign and a third-round appearance in the 2022 WNIT before falling to CUSA’s Middle Tennessee.

On the court, the Commodores are led by two graduate transfer guards in Ciaja Harbison (18.5 ppg) and Marnelle Garraud (12.1 ppg).

Harbison comes to Nashville as the second-leading all-time scorer in St. Louis history and is a former First Team and All-Defensive A10 performer, while Garraud is a former ACC All-Defensive guard from Boston College.

Offensively, Vanderbilt is averaging 67.6 ppg on 43 percent shooting, including 35 percent from three and 71 percent from the line, while holding their opponents to 60.3 ppg on 39 percent shooting. The have registered 98 steals on the year with 39 blocks.  

Thursday’s matchup will be the third all-time meeting between LA Tech and Vanderbilt and the first meeting in the regular season. 

Tech and Vandy have met twice in the NCAA tournament dating back to 1992-93 in the Regional Final in Nacogdoches, Texas, where No. 1 Seed Vanderbilt took the game 58-53.

LA Tech is 1-0 in Ruston, which came back in March of 2000 in the second round of the NCAA tournament, with Tech winning 66-65 thanks to two free throws from Trina Frierson with two seconds remaining.

LA Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr played in the game, registering three assists and a steal in 15 minutes.

Season and single-game tickets are on sale and can be purchased at or by calling the LA Tech Ticket Office at (318) 257-3631.

Tech fans can earn a $5 ticket when bringing a toy for the Toys For Tots promotion.