"Mississippi Valley State plays really tough defense, where it's a lot of junk, a lot of matchup, zone, man, switching all the time and you spend so much time trying to figure that out, you really get flat, so we really wanted to get in transition," she said.
However, in the first half, things didn't always go as planned. Foul trouble didn't help, with two of the team's more aggressive players, Rebekah Dahlman and Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau picking up two first half fouls. Vanderbilt was also playing without the services of Marqu'es Webb, who has been trying to play through a knee injury. "We thought that with the break coming up, the thing to do would be to let her get stronger and heal because we're going to need her," Balcomb said.
After a 3-pointer by A'Shanti Weathers put the Devilettes on top 3-0 in the very early going, Vanderbilt took over the lead and never trailed again. But throughout the first half, Vanderbilt wasn't able to get much separation. The Dores briefly led by 11 points, but couldn't pull away, and at halftime led by nine points at 29-20.
In the second half, things went better from the Vanderbilt point of view. Out of the locker room, a 7-0 Morgan Batey run put the Dores on top by 16 points at 36-20, and after that, the Devilettes never got closer than 14 points. Switching to a zone allowed Vanderbilt more chances to get into transition. As a result, the Dores were finally able to step on the gas, and the Vanderbilt lead continued to grow until the final buzzer sounded with the score of 63-37.
Vanderbilt was led in scoring by Morgan Batey with 15 points, followed by Rachel Bell with 10 points. Batey and Kristen Gaffney, who got her first start as a Commodore, each pulled down 10 rebounds. Paris Kea led the team in assists with seven.
Next, the Dores have a break for final exams. After the break, they hit the road again with a trip to Elon on December 14, followed by a trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to play Marquette on December 18.
The next home game will be December 21 when the Dayton Flyers come to town. The annual Teddy Bear Toss will take place during halftime of that game. Fans are encouraged to bring a new stuffed animal, with tags still attached, to donate to charity. Fans who wear an ugly Christmas sweater can buy a ticket for $5.
* * * * * Photos copyright 2014 by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com