"We knew that we had to defend and rebound, and to defend we had to shut down their best player," she said after the game. "They go as she goes, and so our game plan was to take her out of it. "
Redshirt freshman Rebekah Dahlman stepped up to the challenge, and as a result Minnesota's Rachel Banham, who had been averaging 22.8 points per game, was held to just four points. "I told Becca I recruited her for defense, and I told her that I didn't care if she scored a point tonight, and it was obvious she didn't either," said Balcomb.
But before the game was over, Dahlman's offense was on display in addition to her defense, as she finished the game with a double double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. True freshman Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau also had a double double, leading all scorers with 21 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
Vanderbilt fell into an early hole as Carlie Wagner hit two quick 3-pointers for the Gophers within the first minute of the game. Minnesota led by as much as eight points before the Dores got their bearings and began to chip their way back into the game. A pair of free throws by Caron-Goudreau put Vanderbilt ahead for the first time at 15-14 with 9:27 left in the first half.
As it turned out, Vanderbilt would never relinquish that lead. In the first half, the Dores led by as many as six points and went to the locker room at halftime with a 24-20 lead.
In the second half, Vanderbilt quickly built the lead to double digits, and five minutes into the second half, the lead had increased to 18 points at 42-24. Minnesota was able to trim the lead back to single digits midway through the half, but the Dores responded, bolstering the lead up to 13 points with 7:46 left in the game.
After that, Vanderbilt stayed ahead by at least 13 points for the rest of the game, and when the final buzzer sounded, the final score was 71-54.
With the victory, Vanderbilt earned the right to play defending national champion Connecticut, who defeated Charleston 85-24 on Friday night. Gametime is Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Jasmine Lister is now a graduate assistant at UConn.
Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau and Marqu'es Webb
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Photos copyright 2014 by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com