Women's Hoops: Boston College press conference

After <!--Default NodeId For Vanderbilt is 578,2005--><A HREF=http://vanderbilt.TheInsiders.com>Vanderbilt</A>'s 86-85 overtime loss to <!--Default NodeId For Boston College is 374,2005--><A HREF=http://bostoncollege.TheInsiders.com>Boston College</A> in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Norfolk, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie

Balcomb, senior center Chantelle Anderson, senior point guard Ashley McElhiney, and junior forward Jenni Benningfield met the press. First, Coach Balcomb made some opening comments.

Coach Balcomb: I think it was a great game. Obviously, both teams shot the ball well, and it could have gone either way. Down the stretch the big difference was that they out-rebounded us. Other that that, the stats are very even, and I think we just needed to get one stop. We struggled defensively all night being able to get that one stop, and I thought Boston College did a great job just never giving up and coming after us the whole time. I give them a lot of credit for how tough they were, and how they came after us.

The Press: Did you guys think that Amber would be the one taking the last shot?

Coach Balcomb: I think the big thing is that we had some players in foul trouble, so I didn't think their post-ups -- they were out of the game -- so I didn't think they were going to go off inside, but they could have gone to any of their guards. Their guards can all score and shoot, so we weren't sure who was going to sure who was going to shoot, and whether they were going to come off a screen to shoot or penetrate.

The Press: For the players, just watching the ball linger on the rim like that, and then fall, what were you thinking?

Chantelle: Please don't go in? There's nothing you can think in that split second or couple of seconds. You're just thinking, "Please don't go in."

The Press: Chantelle, I know it's the last thing on your mind, but you passed Wendy Scholtens' record tonight. Do you have any comment at all?

Chantelle: (Tearfully.) Yes, that's the last thing on my mind. That's been a goal, and it's accomplished, and in a couple of days, I'll probably say a little bit more, but it really doesn't matter right now.

The Press: Was there a part in the game where you said, wow, this is becoming a game more than we wanted it to? We're losing our grip kind of thing?

Jenni: I think the last couple of minutes in the first half we knew-- We had momentum most of the first half until the last couple of minutes in the first half where they had a run, and we started to not being ourselves and not executing what we know how to do. They got a run going into halftime, and they had momentum going into the halftime, so we knew the second half was going to be a war. There were momentum swings the entire game. There were times when we executed, and times when we didn't. There were different times throughout the game, but the first one that comes to mind was in the end of the first half, we realized it was going to be a great game and every possession counted, and it did.

The Press: When Becky missed those two free throws, did you guys kind of think it was divine intervention because you'd been given this unbelievable gift?

Chantelle: Well, you can look at it either way. You can look at it that they had the edge, and they messed up and they were meant to win, or you can look at it like, yeah, we were meant to win because they had that chance and they threw it away. We chose to look at it that way. And I think that everyone played their heart out on both teams. That last shot went high off the backboard and bounced in, and there was another shot she hit while she was falling down and twising her ankle. They got lucky on a couple of ones-- they played hard, they played really hard and stuff like that, yeah, I think we did look at it that way -- hey, we got a second chance, let's make the most of it. And I think we got a lot of energy from that.

The Press: Coach, talk about your expectations that you had coming into the season. Did this exceed whatever you had in your mind coming into the season?

Coach Balcomb: No, I had the same expectations I think everybody had for this program. I wanted to take this team to the Final Four, and I'm really proud the way they accepted me and my staff, and got better and better as the season went on. I think they did a great job changing-- this was a transition year where they had to do a lot of changing, and a lot of accepting. It's a very successful program, and I'm very proud of how they accepted us, and they tried to do the things that we were teaching, and they got better at it. And they never gave up on it, and in fact really started to believe in it, and I think we accomplished a lot. When we look, I think we'll be very proud of what we accomplished. I just think right now it's hard to see what we did, and really wish we could have gotten closer to our goal.

After the players and coach left the podium, VandyMania talked with a tearful Jenni Benningfield.

VM: Jenni, could you just talk about what you're thinking and feeling now?

Jenni: We stopped short of our goals. It's disappointing, and I hate it for the seniors. They've meant so much to this program. We wanted more than anything to give them a great thing to leave Vanderbilt with, and we've been working hard as a team, and we had high expectations this whole entire year . We've been playing extremely well and really coming together, not only as a team but as a family, and it's hard-- it's hard because it's short of what you want. It's been a wonderful year, though. You can't take that away. It's been great. It's been an awesome experience. I hate it for the coaches. I hate it for everybody and for the fans. But I just hate it for our team because we have been working so hard and we had that feeling of-- it's something you can't get back. On a positive note, I guess we take it and learn from it.

VM: For you personally, from the day you walked in, Chantelle and Ashley have been on the court. Does that make it especially hard for you?

Jenni: They've taken me underneath their wing and showed me the ropes and showed me -- they've helped me so much on and off the court. They're like my sisters. I don't have any sisters, so my team is my sisters, and I hate it for them because they have worked so hard. They have led this team for the three years I've been here and the other year they were here. I can't quite imagine them not on the court.

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