NORMAN, OK -- When a team plays their first game after a week of final exams, it's hard to know what to expect. Will they be rusty? Will they benefit from the time off from game preparation? It's the proverbial box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get.
On Sunday afternoon, back in action after the break for final exams, the Dores quickly made it clear that they had used the time to their best advantage. After an early 8-4 Oklahoma lead, the Dores tied the game before the first media timeout, then took the lead on a 3-pointer by Christina Foggie, and never looked back.
"We just came off a week of just practicing, and that’s hard to do with finals at Vanderbilt and coming to practice," Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb said after the game. "But they practiced hard every day, competed every day, and improved every day. We got healthy, we got rest, and we got better."
Vanderbilt was hitting on all cylinders early on. Foggie, Kady Schrann and Jasmine Lister all were scoring both from the inside from the outside. Overall all Vanderbilt shot over 50% from the field for most of the first half while holding Oklahoma to under 40%.
The Dores took their first double digit lead of the game at 26-16 midway through the first half. Oklahoma trimmed the lead back to single digits on a 3-pointer by Aaryn Ellenberg with five minutes left in the first half. But the Sooners weren't able to cut further into the lead and Vanderbilt took at 37-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Coming out of intermission, Vanderbilt scored first, but the Sooner soon cut the lead to single digits, first to seven and then to just six points at 41-36. A 3-pointer by Foggie kept Oklahoma from coming closer, however, and soon afterwards 3-pointers by Lister and Schrann gave the Dores a 15-point lead at 52-37. Then midway through the half, a 3-pointer from Gabby Smith stretched the lead to 18 points at 57-39.
But just when it looked like the Dores were about to put the game out of reach, Oklahoma scored seven straight points to cut the lead back to 11. Fortunately for Vanderbilt, however, Smith stopped the run with another 3-pointer.
After that, the Dores were able to stop every Oklahoma threat, despite the best efforts of the home crowd of more than 5,000 to will their team to victory. When a basket by Ellenberg cut the lead to nine at 65-56 with four minutes remaining, the crowd got loud, perhaps sensing that this was the last chance to make a run.
However, despite the noise of the crowd, TIffany Clarke scored off an offensive rebound. When Ellenberg again cut the lead to single digits, once again inspiring the crowd, Foggie answered with five straight points to put a dagger into whatever Sooner hopes remained.
In the end, Oklahoma was forced to foul, sending Jasmine Lister to the line for a pair of free throws. Lister sank them both, then on the opposite end of the court, grabbed the offensive rebound, was fouled again, and sank both free throws again to give Vanderbilt an 18-point lead with 1:45 left in the game. Another basket by Ellenberg and a 3-pointer by Nicole Kornet with 12 seconds left made the final score 76-63.
After the game, Coach Balcomb liked what she saw in the final stats. "I love the turnovers down to 13 and their turnovers to 20; I think that had a lot to do with our win," she said. "We took them out of their sets and forced turnovers and got easy opportunities on offense, and on offense, we took care of the basketball."
The play of point guard Jasmine Lister, who scored 16 points with nine assists and six rebounds garnered plaudits from the coach. "I thought Jasmine Lister played one of the best point guard games that she has played, probably the best in her three years here," Balcomb said. "She totally controlled the tempo, controlled the game, controlled her emotions and made smart plays, and that helped our trust and confidence.
Freshman post Heather Bowe played 26 minutes in the game, spelling both starting posts, Tiffany Clarke and Elan Brown. After Bowe first went into the game, 6-6 Nicole Griffin blocked her shot, but Bowe adjusted and to her height and finished with six points and seven rebounds.
"Heather Bowe, seven rebounds and played hard, and like Charlie said, she got her shot blocked then took it at her and scored," said Balcomb. "You can’t coach that. Those are intangibles, and that’s why we recruited Heather Bowe."
As pleasing as the stats and the individual performances were to the coach, what pleased her most was the bigger picture.
"I think the big thing is. . . that you go through the whole list and everybody played within themselves. They did what they’re supposed to do. Elan Brown played with heart, and Tiff Clarke dominated inside and rebounded. They did what they do. And if everybody could do what they do every night, we’re going to be pretty good."
The Dores return to action next Saturday afternoon when they host the College of Charleston at 2 p.m. The game is part of the Five Dollars Days for December with game tickets costing just $5.
The game will also feature the annual Teddy Bear Toss. Fans are asked to bring a new teddy bear with the tag still attached to donate to Toys for Tots. Teddy bears will be tossed onto the floor at halftime. Gametime is 2 p.m.
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They say "pyrotechnics" but it looks like fire to me!
Christina Foggie ties the game at 8-8.
Kady Schrann'a 3-pointer gives Vandy a 19-13 lead.
Jumbotron at the Lloyd Noble Center
Lister's 3-pointer puts Dores up 24-16.
Heather Bowe battles 6-6 Nicole Griffin.
Tiffany Clarke drives and scores.
Heather Bowe goes around Griffin for the score.
Elan Brown's free throws give Vandy a 46-37 lead.
While refs look at the monitor, Coach Balcomb talks to her players.
Gabby Smith's 3-pointer ends 7-0 Sooner run.
Then Smith hits another one.
Coach Vicky Picott and bench
Foggie delivers the dagger.
Lister seals the deal.
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Photos copyright 2012 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com