VU WBB: Missouri 59, Vanderbilt 54

On Thursday night in Columbia, Missouri, Vanderbilt struggled mightily on both ends of the court. Down 16 points with 8:55 left in the game, the Dores battled back to a one-point deficit in the final minute, but couldn't get over the hump. After the game, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb talked with the media about the game. Here are her comments.

The big number is the 22% field goal percentage; how much of that was defense and how much was not making shots?

We're a good shooting team, and we had shots, but obviously they played great defense; I always give the other team credit for what they do. We took shots that weren't really what we're doing. Again, credit to them for giving open looks to people who just took them because they were open . . . We didn't want to work hard enough to get the shot, and they were going to make us work hard, and that's where this was a game of effort and focus, and they had both of those things, and we did not.

Was there anything unique about their matchup zone that you hadn't seen or . . .

No, we're seeing the same thing a lot. You're trying to take Christina Foggie and Jas Lister out of it, and they did a good job and stayed focused on that, and we left their shooters wide open all game. We tried three different defenses, and they were still wide open. They just didn't make as many down the stretch. That's what disappointing. In the two games we've beaten them since the series has started, we held them to an average of 43 points, so I know you look at this and say, "They held us to 54, and that's why they won, and they shot so poorly." I'm as disappointed in our defensive execution. We've been able to really hold them down, and we were not able to do so. And we were not focused and executing what we had worked on to take away their 3-point shots. Their post players that don't post up are scoring 13 points on us and people are making post moves on us, and we're not defending it, and that's not even what they do. We were disappointed on both ends. Missouri wanted this game and played very hard and played very focused, and that's why they won. They executed their game plan, and we did not.

You've got two seniors as good as anybody could ask, but other than that, you've got a very young team. How much difference does it make when you're talking about a one-point game with 40-some seconds left?

A lot. And we didn't lose because Marqu'es Webb – we needed a post player, and we needed somebody to step up, and she stepped up in the second half, so we went to her. But that's because she stepped up. She took charges, she wanted the ball in the paint, they couldn't guard her in there. We just needed that all game. We didn't need to be down as far as we were down was the problem. We didn't play until the last six minutes or so when we thought we had nothing to lose. We played not to lose instead of playing to win, and they were very hungry and played hard, and that's why you play these games. I've been on the other side a lot in the SEC, and they just did to us what we do to a lot of people in the SEC. And that's a great job. That says a lot about them as a team, and them as individual and their coach.

You had 22 offensive rebounds, Missouri had 22 turnovers, and there were some numbers to like. Do you take any silver lining out of that?

Yeah, but we got ten of those in the last six minutes. That's what we were supposed to do all game. Again, if you look at the other two games, we held them in scoring, we had a ton of offensive rebounds, we went to the free throw line a ton more than them. We didn't do that until the last six minutes of the game. We win this game if we're not down 13 points, and we should have been down more, to be honest with you.

Coach, you held Morgan Eye to two points.

We let everybody else have a career high. That wasn't intentional. That wasn't the game plan. It WAS the game plan to not let Morgan get off from deep; I know she's a great shooter, I think the world of her, I'd love to have her. But we were trying to stop everybody from 3 and everybody in the paint. I think they're well-balanced. They're better balanced than us. Kulis – she ended up with 15 – we did a decent job on her, took charges on her, forced her to turn it over seven times, but we let the other kids all of a sudden be all-americans. We took breaks, mentally and physically. They beat us down the floor. That's hard to swallow as a coach. When you get out-hustled, that's hard to swallow, and you just have to give the credit to the other team because they played so hard.

Coach, how do you talk to your team after a game like this one?

It's difficult. That's why I was in there a while. This is very difficult. I've been coaching a long time, but that gentleman back there knows that we've hid our youth pretty well to this point, and our lack of inside game and finishing plays and everything, we got that exposed tonight. And that Missouri deserves credit for. They exposed our weaknesses and that's what their job is and took away our strengths. That's what we tried to do to them, but all of a sudden, their weaknesses became strengths. Other people stepped up, and that's what we needed and didn't get from some very young players.

Talk about the challenge of getting this bunch turned around.

I think it's one of those "Thank God you go back home." We just lost to South Carolina at home and had an opportunity there, and then we play the best team in the league, Texas A&M, when we go back home. It's tough. I get it, I've been in the SEC a long time. Vanderbilt can be a tough place to play at home; we beat Texas A&M last year at home and so much of it is about matchups. So we will just get back to work tomorrow.

Obviously, it's going to hurt like heck to watch Christina and Jas move on, but you've got so much young talent on this team. Just talk about how you're building for the future with this bunch and what this team looks like a year from now.

Last year a lot of these kids that are sophomores as freshmen – Christina got hurt, Kady Schrann got hurt – and so I played Jas Lister as a junior and four freshmen down the stretch and just let them play through their mistakes and ended up beating teams like Texas A&M and still getting into the NCAAs, so I was just was working on next year. So I expect more out of them this year so when Jas and Foggie leave, we're going to expect even more of them. We have a great class coming in, too, a highly ranked class. What's tough is losing Rebekah Dahlman. She came in and was the hardest worker I had ever coached and was leading the SEC in 3-point percentage. If she's on the floor tonight, you can't do what you did to Jas and Foggie and leave her open. She'll shoot more than them, but losing her to a blood clot, we had to adjust. It's been good for our team to come together, and that has helped us in that aspect, but we miss that third scoring guard that we were going to have. Hopefully you get her back at some point next year, and that makes next year's class even more exciting. Top Stories