Given the youth of the team and the lack of height among the players available to play, Vanderbilt fans might have been concerned about how the team would respond to the challenge. But as it turned out, the Dores were ready to play from the opening tipoff. Vanderbilt secured the tip and scored soon after on a basket by Marqu'es Webb.
It was a good start for Vanderbilt, and it grew into a solid first half effort. The half was close all the way. Neither team led by more than single digits, and the half featured five lead changes and three ties. With 2:56 left in the half, Duke opened up an 8-point lead at 36-28 on a pair of free throws by Chelsea Gray, but Vanderbilt held the Blue Devils scoreless for the remainder of the half and trailed by only two points at 36-34 going into halftime.
For the first ten minutes of the second half, Duke held a single digit lead. Each time the Blue Devils built the lead to seven points, Vanderbilt answered. Likewise, whenever the Dores began to make a run, Duke stopped it.
But then, Duke's transition game went into high gear, and when things began to fall apart for the Dores, they fell apart quickly. A 4-point Duke lead with 11:35 left become a 15-point lead three minutes later. And four minutes after that, it became a 20 point lead, and the only suspense that remained was the final margin of victory.
"I think we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit by really quick shots," said Balcomb after the game. "Once they got hot and hit shots, I felt like we hit the panic button."
Earlier in the game, the Dores had been executing well, getting the ball inside and outside, moving it from side to side, and getting ball reversals. But according to the coach, that changed when things started to go downhill.
"We took quick shots to try to stay with them and when we did that, those long rebounds are really like turnovers, they lead to transition down at the other end," she said. "And that's what we were trying not to do, but got caught up in it."
Senior guard Jasmine Lister, who finished the game with 23 points, said that the team's overall effort gives them hope of being an elite basketball team. "I think that we have to take that and keep moving forward and learn from the second half to know that we have to stick with the game plan the entire game," she said. "I think it's definitely a learning experience."
Next the team returns to Memorial Gym to host the Dayton Flyers on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The game is part of Vanderbilt's "Take a Kid to the Game" promotion. Any fan who buys an adult ticket for $6.00 will receive a complimentary youth ticket (age 18 and under). For more information, see Take A Kid to the Game on vucommodores.com.