Zuzi, who attended perennial national powerhouse Pius XI for two years before coming to Vandy, had a solid game with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 blocked shot, 2 steals, and no turnovers.
But her partner in the post, Chantelle Anderson, stole the show, scoring 35 points as she connected on her first 12 shots from the field with the last in the streak coming from behind the arc. For the game, she finished 15 of 18 from the field.
Despite the dominating performance by Vanderbilt's post players, the Commodores didn't dominate the game. For the first nine minutes of the game, neither team could gain the upper hand, with Vanderbilt scoring in the post, and the aggressive Panthers dominating the boards. With 11:03 left in the half, the score was tied at 17-17.
Then the Commodores stormed ahead with a 13-0 run to take a 30-17 lead with 6:55 left in the half. Anderson's 20th point of the half stretched Vanderbilt's lead to 15 as the Commodores headed to the locker room leading 44-29.
In the first few minutes of the second half, it looked as if the Commodores would run away with the game when they started off the half with a 9-2 run giving them their biggest lead of the night at 53-31.
But the scrappy Panthers weren't going to go away that easily..Thanks to their defensive pressure and some defensive lapses by Vanderbilt, Milwaukee whittled away at the Vanderbilt lead, cutting it to 13 with 13:32 left in the half. The Commodores worked the lead back up to 20 at 71-51 with 5:19 left. But the never-say-die Panthers trimmed the lead back to 13 again at 77-64 with a minute remaining, but could come no closer as a pair of free throws by Jillian Danker finished the scoring for the game.
Vanderbilt was lead in scoring by Chantelle Anderson with 35 points, followed by Zuzi Klimesova with 18, and Jillian Danker with 14. Ashley Earley was leading irebounder with 9, followed by Anderson with 7 and Klimesova with 6. Earley and Jillian Danker each had 5 assists.
For Milwaukee, Jessica Wilhite led Milwaukee with 14 points, followed by Stefanie Kaufmann and Maria Viall with 12 each. Kaufman was leading rebounder with 6, and Holly Tamm had 6 assists.
Vanderbilt shot 57.7% from the field for the game, compared to 39.7% for the Panthers. Vanderbilt cooled considerably in the second half after shooting 67% from the field in the first half. The Commodores led in rebounding, 28-22. UWM had fewer turnovers, with only 9 compared to 12 for the Commodores.
Next, the Commodores return to Nashville for a game at the Gaylord Entertainment Center against James Madison Sunday afternoon. This game will be the first game of a doubleheader featuring both the men's and women's teams. The men will play Western Kentucky afterwards. A single ticket covers both games. As of Thursday afternoon, tickets were still available, but were going fast.
The Press: Coach, could you give us your impression of UWM?
Coach Foster: They played real hard. They competed for the entire 40 minutes. They played with a lot of poise. They played well.
The Press: Talk about Zuzi's homecoming and the good game from your post players.
Coach Foster: Well, we obviously thought we could score inside against them, and we were very patient for the most part on offense and got a lot of good opportunities for both Zuzi and Chantelle from an offensive perspective.
The Press: Does Chantelle ever miss?
Coach Foster: She's a player who's probably going to graduate the leading field goal percentage shooter in the history of the game. If she continues playing the way she's been playing, that's a reasonable expectation. She's ambidextrous, she's got a soft touch, she can catch.
The Press: Zuzi, talk about playing back here at home.
Zuzi Klimesova: Yes, it was very exciting for me, seeing some people just by passing by out of the gym that I haven't seen in the past three years. It was very exciting to see them, they still remember me, and they took the time to come to the game. It was great. I'm very thankful that I got to come back here. My host family had the whole team over for dinner last night.
The Press: Zuzi, what did you think about the game Milwaukee played?
Zuzi: Well, I think we could have done much better on defense. Milwaukee played hard, but that was exactly what was in our scouting report. I think that sometimes we just didn't real well, or didn't seem to pay enough attention, but they did a great job. They really battled and put us to the test. It was a close game. I credit them.
The Press: (inaudible)
Zuzi: I think that their strength is in their aggressiveness. They're aggressive on offense, they're aggressive on defense. I think throughout the whole game there was not a minute where you would feel like they gave up. They were just constantly on their toes and working hard. There's a lot for us to learn from.
The Press: Chantelle, can you talk about your game? You were 10 for 10 in the first half.
Chantelle Anderson: I just think that we did a good job of executing, and my shots were going tonight. When we execute our offense, we get a lot of good shots, and people gave me a lot of great passes, and I just had to turn around and put them in, It's always nice when you hit your first perimeter shot. Then you're not scared to take a couple more.
The Press: Watching the game, it looked like it was divided into segments. Ten minutes into the first half, the score was tied. Then you went on a 15-0 run. Early in second half, you got a 20 point lead, then went six or seven minutes with only one field goal, and they trimmed the lead back to 13. What is your view on what was going on?
Defense isn't important to this basketball team. It's not important to them. They don't care about it. They care about scoring. But they do not have a mentality about defense. They're content to exchange baskets. They're content to go up and down the floor and exchange baskets. There's no competitiveness in that dimension.