VU near upset of 'Noles shows 'Dore tenacity

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb is usually the first in the Commodore camp to refuse to make excuses, but she did in Sunday's 66-72 loss to No. 16/14 Florida State (3-0). The No. 23/20 ‘Dores (2-1) staged a near upset in the second half. This third game of the season was an early test, and to some degree, Vandy passed muster.

Saying she was proud of their fight, Coach Balcomb told the Associated Press that, "It is early in the season and it was a really good game for both teams. Obviously we got down by 11 and came back, and I thought we did a good job, but it was one of those games where I think we wore ourselves out making our comeback."

Vandy came out of halftime scoring with a 13-4 run to take a 38-37 lead on a Tiffany Clarke layup with 13.32 left. The lead changed eight times, and late in the half, an assist by Hannah Tuomi and layup by Stephanie Holzer put Vandy within two at 61-63 with 2:31 remaining. Florida State's Courtney Ward hit a trey and two free throws to put the ‘Noles up for good.

Injuries played a part in somewhat poor conditioning against the ‘Noles' pressure although scoring and an attack mentality did not suffer. Freshman Christina Foggie, back on court after a strained tendon sidelined her for a game, and guard Jasmine Lister again proved that owning little collegiate experience has no bearing on their confidence as shooters and playmakers. The quick duo combined for 57% of Vandy's 66 points with Jersey's Foggie leading Vandy with 21 points and 5 of 8 three-point shooting while Jasmine added 17 points and was 3 of 6 from three-point range. Christina and Jasmine gained key experience against a tough opponent with 39 and 37 minutes each.

Stephanie Holzer, the 6-4 redshirt freshman with a 23-ppg average prior to Sunday, drew double team coverage, reducing her point total to six, but she had four steals and opened up play for her teammates.

Upperclassmen were solid as well with senior Hannah Tuomi sticking firm to the post with 11 points after an elbow jab cut and swelled the area above her right eye. Jence Rhoads returned to point action after sitting out two games with a strained hamstring. Tiffany Clarke stepped it up to score 9 points on 4 of 6 field goal shooting and three assists. Ultimately, there was no answer for the Seminoles' Ward who had 31 points and hit 7 of 9 threes to pace all scorers in the game.

Vanderbilt fans have an opportunity this week to see the Top 20 team in action for free admission in the annual Thanksgiving Tournament before a two-game road stretch on December 1 (Bowling Green, Ohio) and December 5 (Denver University).

The ‘Dores take on the Princeton Tigers (2-1), whose only loss came against Rutgers in the first of a doubleheader at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 26. The USC Trojans (2-1), with their sole loss to Duke, play Quinnipiac at 7 p.m.

The Sunday consolation game is scheduled for noon and the Championship game at 2 p.m. A number of prizes, including autographed basketballs, photos and tickets to SEC games, will be available to attendees.

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