Maybe it was the fact that the team was coming off a big win over Oklahoma last Sunday. Maybe it was a week-long break since the last game. Maybe it was the anticipation of going home for Christmas after the game. Maybe it was the absence of Kady Schrann in the starting lineup due to a sprained ankle. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Whatever the reason, after a strong 8-2 start out of the gate against the Cougars of the College of Charleston, the Dores struggled on both ends of the court to fall behind 19-16 with four minutes left in the first half.
"Our hands weren’t active enough, and we gave them good looks and then we didn’t check out and gave them second and third shots which built their confidence, and then we got tight on offense," said Head Coach Melanie Balcomb in the post-game press conference.
"Then it looked like we started pressing, trying to do things outside our offense and not taking what the defense gave us," she continued. "I do think we settled down in the last couple of minutes of the first half. We got defense, we didn’t go too fast on offense, we executed well on both ends of the floor, and that’s when we were able to open it up a little right before the end of the first half."
The Dores reclaimed the lead on a couple of baskets by Tiffany Clarke, assisted by freshman guard Morgan Batey on the first, and by Christina Foggie on the second. Freshman point guard Jasmine Jenkins grabbed the defensive rebound that set up Clarke's second basket. Seven points from Foggie during those last four minutes helped to establish an 8-point Vanderbilt lead at 29-21 at halftime.
After the teddy bears were tossed onto the court and collected by staff to donate to Toys for Tots, the Dores returned to the court and started the second half the way they finished the first half, and the Vanderbilt lead grew quickly. Clarke's layup to start the half gave Vanderbilt a 10-point lead and within five minutes the lead had grown to 15 points.
"At halftime sometimes you try to make adjustments and sometimes you try to do different things," Coach Balcomb said. "We just wanted more of the last three or four minutes, more of that level of getting offense off our defense and transitioning well from getting a stop and getting down on offense.
"They weren’t happy with their first half, and so we were asking individuals to bring what they bring to this team at the start of the second half, especially our two seniors, Tiff and Elan [Brown]", she said. "They made big adjustments right away in the second half, got more aggressive, were consistently doing what they’re asked to do, and that made a big difference."
Vanderbilt continued to pull away with the lead reaching 20 points on a layup by Batey midway through the half. With 6:19 left in the game, a jumper by Brown, assisted by sophomore point guard Maggie Morrison, gave Vanderbilt a 28-point lead, their biggest of the night, at 62-34.
The comfortable margin gave all healthy players the chance to see some time on the court. Freshmen Jasmine Jenkins and Morgan Batey each played 19 minutes in the game. Freshman post Kendall Shaw, who has been hampered by a knee sprain, scored five points in seven minutes, and Rayte'a Long scored two points with a rebound and a steal in six minutes.
But the freshman who made the biggest impact on the game was post Heather Bowe. Bowe finished the game with new career highs in points (14), rebounds (10), assists (2), and free throws made and attempted (6 for 6 from the line) in 21 minutes of playing time.
After the game Coach Balcomb also praised her work on the defensive end of the court against #55 Latisha Harris, the Cougars' post player. "[Harrs] is really good; I really liked her on film, and [Heather] did a good really good job of getting around and keeping the ball out of the post, really worked hard, and then checked out and rebounded, dominated on the boards," Balcomb said.
Then, on the other end of the court, "She had some passes on offense, some great screens," said Balcomb. "This was by far her best game and what she gave the team in her minutes, her productivity, was tremendous, so we want more of that."
With their sixth-straight victory Vanderbilt improved to 9-3 on the season. After the game, the excited players headed home for the Christmas break. They return to campus December 26 to prepare for the long road trip to Los Angeles to play the University of Southern California Trojans. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT, and the game can be seen on the internet at USC: Live Stream.
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Christina Foggie's 3-pointer puts the Dores on the board.
Heather Bowe completes the old-fashioned 3-point play.
Elan Brown gives Dores the lead at 14-11.
With Cougars leading 19-16, Clarke scores.
Foggie assists . . .
. . . Clarke scores, Dores on top for good.
Foggie's 3-pointer puts Vanderbilt up 25-19.
Fans get ready for the Teddy Bear Toss.
Teddy Bears fly!
Heather Bowe puts Dores up by 15, 40-25.
Clarke is fouled, then hits the free throws.
Jasmine Lister with the assist to Clarke.
Morgan Batey puts Dores up by 20 at 51-31.
Elan Brown's jumper gives Dores their biggest lead of the game.
Kendall Shaw is fouled late in the game.
Team with teddy bears (photo from VU Media Relations)
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Unless noted, photos copyright 2012 Whitney D for VandyMania.com