Five Dores scored in double figures in the SEC season opener, led by Christina Foggie with 17 points. Tiffany Clarke and Jasmine Lister each scored 14, Kady Schrann scored 13, and Heather Bowe scored 10 off the bench. Clarke was Vanderbilt's leading rebounder with six boards, and Lister dished out 10 assists.
Thursday night was a free taco night in Memorial Gym. Some nights, a "free tacos if the team scores 75 points!" announcement on the video board is a cruel joke, but not this night.
Midway through the first half, a fan with an aptitude for mathematics and an eye on tacos could calculate that Vanderbilt was not only on track for free tacos, but also to pass the century mark by game's end. With the 53-18 halftime score, taco stock continued to rise.
The second half didn't disappoint. After a sizzling first half, the Dores kept the heat on and reached the magical 75 points exactly halfway through the second half on a basket by Tiffany Clarke. Soon afterwards, with a 50-point lead and still on pace to break 100 points, the remaining Vanderbilt starters on the court left the floor for good.
As it turned out, every healthy Vanderbilt player got into the game. With only reserves on the court for the last ten minutes, scoring tapered off and the team scored only 92 points rather than the 100 points predicted by the scores earlier in the game. But they maintained the 50-point margin, and Vanderbilt's biggest lead of the night at 54 points came while they were on the floor.
Statistically, Vanderbilt led in virtually every category, shooting 57.4% from the field compared to 32.7% for Mississippi State. The Dores' ratio of assists to turnovers was 24:8; for the Bulldogs, the ratio was 9:22. The battle for the boards was less lopsided, but Vanderbilt held the edge 32-27.
"Well, they’re as good as I thought they were. I don’t know how they’re not ranked; Coach Balcomb’s got them playing at a high level." said MIssissippi State Head Coach Vic Schaeffer following his SEC debut as a head coach. "When you guard them, it’s like guarding an NBA team. They run so many sets. They’ve got so many kids that can make shots. 10 [Christina Foggie] doesn’t miss if you don’t guard her."
"I don’t know if I saw THIS coming, such a complete game by so many players, but I do see the team chemistry, I do see the effort, I do see the consistency in practice and focus," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb.
"To be honest with you, I think the momentum was important, winning two games on the road, figuring it out together on the road as a team," she continued. "It builds chemistry because you’re together and spending a lot of time together so I thought our trip to USC really helped us because they had fun winning, and that’s important."
The challenge now is to take the team's high level of play on the road with the next two games away from the friendly confines of Memorial Gym. First the team travels to Oxford, Mississippi, on Sunday to play the Old Miss Rebels, then to South Carolina on Thursday to take on the Gamecocks.
"Everything is about confidence and how you carry yourself, and I think that we’ll go into the [Ole Miss] game confident, and we need to -- you need to every game whether it’s home or on the road in the SEC," said Coach Balcomb.
"That was a good start, but it’s just a start. It’s just one game and we can’t get too full of ourselves either. We have to be careful. We need to be pleased with our start, but we need to challenge ourselves every game to get better," she continued.
"And that better not be our best game. It was a very good game for us. It was our best game of this season. Next game better be the best game of this season, and that’s how we’re looking at it."
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The SEC season begins!
Christina Foggie scores on the break.
Foggie for threeeeeeee!!
Foggie drives and scores.
Foggie for threeeeee!
Yep, that's a foul. Lister to the FT line.
Good job, Tiff!
Heather Bowe leads bench scoring with 10 points.
Photos copyright 2013 by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com