Young guns rally Vandy past MSU

STARKVILLE-- For the second time in as many days a Vanderbilt basketball team rallied on the road to defeat an opposing team with a Bulldog mascot. The Commodore women rallied from a 7-point second half deficit to defeat Mississippi State, 72-64.

A 3-pointer by Mary Kathryn Govero less than a minute into the second half gave Mississippi State a 36-29 lead over Vanderbilt. However, as we've seen throughout the season, the Commodores had young players step up and lead their team to victory. On Thursday night it was freshmen Jasmine Lister and Christine Foggie who answered the call along with sophomore Tiffany Clarke, who led the Commodores with 22 points along with 14 rebounds.

After the Bulldogs pulled ahead by seven head coach Melanie Balcomb had seen enough. She promptly called a 30-second timeout and inserted Foggie, who earlier in the first half had seen her first game action since sustaining a concussion at Kentucky on Jan. 23. Thirty seconds later, Foggie delivered on what her coach had ordered. She bombed home a 3-pointer and everyone in the gym knew it was only a matter of time before the Commodores would lead the Bulldogs again. That lead would come with 11:30 to play when Lister made her first three of the game to put the VU women on top 47-44. Vanderbilt would never trail again.

As was the case at Georgia, Lister took over in the second half scoring seven straight points to put her team on top 52-44 with just under 10 minutes to go. The MSU women, led by Govero who had 17, would not go down easy. For the remainder of the game Vandy's lead would fluctuate between 7 and 11 points until a free throw by veteran Jence Rhoads put the Commodores up 72-60 with 41 seconds to play. Two more Rhoads free throws gave Vanderbilt its biggest lead of the game, 74-60, with 32 seconds to go. A meaningless basket by Diamber Johnson finalized the game's scoring.

A smiling Balcomb addressed the media after the game.

"We have a young team, but we've definitely developed over time," said Balcomb. "It's so nice to have freshmen with confidence, freshmen who don't play like they're freshman. They know how to make big plays, and they don't have that senior pressure. They can play so much more relaxed."

Mississippi State head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis, who is likely fighting to keep her job, commented that her team may have blown the game mentally.

"Vanderbilt is a very good team," said Fanning. "They have a lot of experience. I felt like there were three or four minutes in the second half where we had a mental lapse. You cannot have that."

In the first half Vanderbilt led by as much as five but a 3-pointer by Johnson with 2 seconds remaining in the half gave the Bulldogs a 31-29 lead at the break.

Lister finished with 16 points and Foggie with 11.

Vanderbilt improves to 18-8 (9-4 SEC). Next up for the Vandy women is a visit by Kentucky on Sunday. Mississippi State falls to 10-15 (2-11 SEC). MSU travels to Florida on Sunday. Vandy now leads its all-time series with the Bulldogs, 31-14.

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