VU posts, threes help beat Princeton 74-68

No. 24/22 Vanderbilt hung on for the team's 12th Thanksgiving Tournament title after back-to-back misses by Princeton in the final 30 seconds, including two 3-point tries. Stephanie Holzer, a 93% free throw shooter, sank a pair to build upon Jence Rhoads' free throw to put VU up 72-68 with half a minute left. The ‘Dores won largely on post play and perimeter shooting when it counted.

Princeton, 14-0 in the Ivy League last season with its only previous loss to Rutgers on the road (54-53), defeated the USC Trojans 60-59 on Friday to enter today's title match. USC came to Nashville with an upset over Georgia 71-63 on Tuesday; in today's consolation game, USC thrashed Quinnipiac 78-59.

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb gave Princeton credit. "They turned it up. I think they're a very good team. I think they're extremely well coached. They beat USC for a reason. We didn't' take them lightly and they were ready to play with a lot of confidence. We came out real strong with a lot of energy on our home court and then they made a run and they stepped it up. They played that way for the rest of the game and maintained it."

Tigers Head Coach Courtney Banghart acknowledged that post play was the difference, stating her squad (3-2) had some length but not the muscle weight to carry through. Vandy post players Hannah Tuomi (16 points and 9 rebounds) the tournament's MVP, and Tiffany Clarke (12 points and 6 boards), named to the All-Tournament team along with freshman Jasmine Lister (15 points and 3 three-pointers), protected the perimeter against hot shooting by Princeton senior Addie Micir who hit six from long range for a 20-point total. Offensive rebounds kicked out beyond the arc contributed to the Tigers' 8 of 17 3-point shooting, which was matched by Vanderbilt.

Coach Balcomb added, "I think we took advantage of our height and of our ability to score inside. I think Hannah was a force. I think when you have Hannah and Tiff [Tiffany Clarke] doing what they do, they both played well tonight, that was tough to defend and get them in foul trouble."

Micir, who averages 11.7 ppg, made the All-Tournament team along with USC's Christina Marinacci and Quinnipiac's Felicia Barron. The Tigers' Niveen Rasheed had 15 points and Lauren Edwards had 14 to round out double digit leaders for Princeton.

Game action was mostly tight and fast, with reciprocating buckets keeping the score close. Vandy was up by one point twice in the first half's final 2:27. With 28 seconds to go, Jasmine Lister hit a pair of free throws , followed by a jumper by Princeton's Megan Bowen with 12 seconds left for a VU single point lead. With three seconds left, Stephanie Holzer sank a jumper for the ‘Dores 29-26 halftime lead.

Key 3-pointers by Jasmine and Gabby Smith halted an 8-2 Princeton advance that put the Ivy Leaguers within 2 at 57-55. Coach Balcomb also credited Gabby's defensive efforts for frustrating Princeton ball handlers. Stephanie, the 6-4 center who missed Friday's 111-53 win over Quinnipiac with back spasms, saw limited action but contributed eight decisive minutes.

Up next for the Commodores (4-1) is a Wednesday bout with Bowling Green (Ohio). The ‘Dores are 0-2 during Melanie Balcomb's coaching stretch, and 2-2 overall. Vanderbilt lost 56-59 in the first round of the NCAA in 2007 and last season at home, 60-66. Next Sunday, December 5, Vanderbilt takes on Denver University for senior Hannah Tuomi's home game.

Senior Hannah Tuomi rises to accept the tournament MVP award.

Jasmine Lister receives an All-Tournament Award from Candice Lee.

The 2010 Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament Champions.

Tiffany Clarke, named to the All Tournament team, powers in a layup.

Jence Rhoads goes up and over in a layup attempt.

Stephanie Holzer, cold from limited play, will ice 2 free throws.

Gabby Smith sinks a key 3-pointer.

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