Lady Gamecocks Thrash Vandy

Snow covered the state of South Carolina, but the #14-ranked Lady Gamecocks were sizzling hot as they defeated the #6-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores 71-52 Thursday night in the Carolina Coliseum.

Vanderbilt scored first on a 3-pointer by Jillian Danker, but South Carolina grabbed the lead back minutes later on a basket by Teresa Geter and never looked back. Vanderbilt briefly cut the lead to one point at 7-6 on a basket by Zuzi Klimesova with 16:04 remaining. But South Carolina immediately reeled off an 23-4 run, fueled by five Commodore turnovers to take a 20-point lead at 30-10 with 5:43 remaining in the first half.

Then the Commodores showed signs of life. Immediately after entering the game for the first time, freshman Tia Battle scored on an assist Ashley Earley to kick off an 8-0 Vanderbilt run to cut the lead to 30-18 with 2:03 left in the first half. But in the remaining two minutes, the Commodores could manage only a layup from Candice Storey and a free throw from Earley, and by the end of the half, the lead was back to 16 at 37-21.

The second half began in the same vein. South Carolina's lead again reached 20 points at 44-24 with 17:21 left. But then the Commodores scored 9 straight points to cut the lead to 11 points on a 3-pointer by Ashley McElhiney. After a South Carolina basket, a couple of made free throws by Jillian Danker again cut the lead to 11 with 12:08 remaining. For the next few minutes, the teams exchanged baskets, so with 7:46 remaining, the Commodores trailed by 12.

However, Vanderbilt could come no closer. In the waning minutes of the game, South Carolina's lead ballooned, thanks in large part to three-pointers down the stretch which gave the Lady Gamecocks their biggest lead of the night at 69-46 with 2:25 remaining. In the final two minutes of the game, Vanderbilt was able to cut the lead under 20 on a layup by Battle with 8 seconds left. South Carolina dribbled out the remaining time as the Lady Gamecocks claimed a 71-52 victory.

Vandy women look on. (Photo by Whitney D.)

Zuzi Klimesova led Vanderbilt in scoring with 17 points and in rebounding with 7. She was 7 for 9 from the floor and added 3 steals. No other Commodore scored in double figures. Jillian Danker had 9, including a perfect 4 for 4 from the line. Ashley Earley, who played 37 minutes, contributed 5 assists.

South Carolina had a more balanced attack, led by Jocelyn Penn with 17 points, Shaun Gortman with 15, and Kelly Morrone with 11. Penn and Teresa Geter were leading rebounders with 7 each.

Overall, Vanderbilt shot 48.6% from the floor (28.6% from 3-point range) for the game. In the first half, Commodores shot only 41.2% and improved in the second half to 55.0%. South Carolina shot 53.6% for the game, including 45.5% (10 of 22) from 3-point range. The Lady Gamecocks also had the rebounding edge 28-24. USC forced 15 turnovers which led to 23 South Carolina points.

Vanderbilt next returns home for a nationally televised Saturday morning game against #24 Penn State. Gametime is 11 a.m., and as part of the "Fan Appreciation Day" promotion, tickets cost only $1.

The Press: Coach, were you surprised?

Vanderbilt Head Coach Jim Foster:  No. They out-worked us, out-played us, out-performed us, out-efforted us.

The Press: (inaudible)

Coach Foster: If players can't respond after something like that, if they have to be told something, they're in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing.

The Press: Chantelle, do you think the defense tonight was the biggest bugabear for you?

Chantelle: It was definitely me. I let them get in my head. They're a physical team, and I didn't deal with it. I just have to realize that people are going to be allowed to do whatever they want to me, and I should be able to deal with it. And obviously I didn't deal with it. I would say that there wasn't anything they did that is different from what anyone else has done or is going to do. I just didn't handle it.

The Press: Coach, once the team realized that it wasn't going to be Chantelle's night (inaudible)?

Coach Foster: No one took the responsibility on their shoulders. Seniors lead on the road. It starts with them.

The Press: Zuzi, can you respond to that?

Zuzi Klimesova:  There's not much to say. We're obviously responsible for getting the team together in preparing for the environment. I think the game speaks for itself, and we didn't do it.

The Press: Ashley (McElhiney), was it anything they were doing do you think or did you all . . .

Coach Foster (interrupting the question and speaking very emphatically): No, no, don't. What I said was "Give them a lot of credit." Don't say, "This is what we didn't do." There's things we didn't do, and there's a mentality that needs to be there, but they played very well. They played very hard. They did a lot of very good things. I'm one of the coaches that walks in and blames their team. The other team played well. Very well. Our team did not respond to their physical nature, to their effort, to their tempo. We did not respond.

The Press: Coach, at home and on the road sometimes we look like two different teams. What is it about going on the road that does that?

Coach Foster: Soft teams don't win on the road.

The Press: We're a soft team?

Coach Foster: It has our name in the dictionary -- right next to the word.

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