The first half of the game was an evenly matched defensive struggle. Georgia came into the game third in the SEC in defense, limiting opponents to 50.3 points per game. They lived up to their billing, but the Vanderbilt defense was equally effective. The Dores held the Dawgs' leading scorer Shacobia Barbee to three first half points, but unfortunately for Vanderbilt, the Dawgs held the SEC's leading scorer, Christina Foggie, to just three first half points as well.
Almost every first half statistic reflected the closeness of the game. At halftime Georgia led by just one point at 25-24. Neither team led by more than four points during the half. The score was tied four times, and the lead changed five times. Georgia had 7 assists with 12 turnovers; Vanderbilt had 7 assists with 11 turnovers. Neither team shot well, with Georgia shooting 36.7% from the floor and Vanderbilt shooting 40%. Vanderbilt scored more points off turnovers, but Georgia scored more second chance points.
In short, the first half was a tight, teeth-grinding nail biter with two equally young teams battling to take control.
The tense, competitive game continued into the second half, but both teams heated up offensively. Vanderbilt reclaimed the lead out of the locker room on a basket by Morgan Batey, but with 11:35 left in the half, the Dawgs opened up a 7-point lead at 44-37.
Over the next several minutes, the Dores scrapped to climb out of that hole. Foggie started the upward climb with a jumper in the paint, and after a Georgia free throw, Marqu'es Webb scored after securing an offensive rebound to cut the lead to four points at 45-41.
And then Jasmine Lister took over, scoring all 12 points in a 12-4 Vanderbilt run -- a fast break layup following a steal by Jasmine Jenkins, a pair of free throws, a 3-pointer, a driving layup, then another 3-pointer. That run gave Vanderbilt a 4-point lead at 53-49.
Then, with Lister having broken the ice, the Dores knocked down their next four shots, with a different player making each one. Foggie hit a 3-pointer, Jenkins scored on a driving layup, Webb scored in the paint with an assist from Kylee Smith, then Smith scored with an assist from Webb to give the Dores an 8-point lead at 62-54 with 2:55 remaining in the game.
But even with the 8-point lead and Memorial Gym rocking, the Dawgs weren't quite ready to lie down and play dead. With 31 seconds left, a pair of free throws by Merritt Hempe cut the Vanderbilt lead to four points at 62-58, and then Georgia began to foul. The Dores weren't perfect at the line, but 4-for-6 was good enough to seal a Vanderbilt victory.
With the victory, Vanderbilt improves to 12-2 on the season and begins the SEC at 1-0. Next action for the Dores is on Sunday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina, when they visit the #13/#12 South Carolina Gamecocks at 12 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPNU and available on the radio at 560 AM WNSR.
Next home game for the Dores will be Sunday January 12 when the Tennessee Lady Volunteers visit Memorial Gym at 4 p.m. CT.