Photo gallery: Seniors bow out with home win

VandyMania's Whitney D. provides a series of images from Senior Night. Thursday's game vs. Alabama marked the final Memorial Gym appearance for two beloved Commodore seniors, Abi Ramsey and Ashley Earley.

You could tell it was Senior Night from the moment you entered the gym. Handmade posters and signs expressing their appreciation and affection for the seniors were visible around the gym. Here, Ashley Earley's father holds one of them.

And, yes, there was a basketball game. The first half wasn't one anybody wants to remember, with the usual sharp-shooting Commodores hitting only 24% of their shots from the field.

But in the end, Vanderbilt prevailed 64-53. With less than a minute left in the game, Coach Melanie Balcomb took her seniors out of the game so that the crowd could give them a standing ovation as they left the court for the last time.

Immediately after the game, the festivities began with flowers. Ashley and Abi exchanged a last minute smile while the final preparations were made.

Following a long-standing tradition, Coach Balcomb presented both of the seniors with a large framed photograph.

The seniors' families joined them on the court to share the moment. In honor of the special occasion, Abi's parents allowed her to select their outfits for them, and she requested a more conservative look than their usual black and gold.

Then there was a highlight film, a montage of video and still images from the four years of their Vanderbilt career.

Then the seniors addressed their teammates, coaches, trainers, staff, and the fans. Ashley went first.

Their teammates listened, sometimes laughing, sometimes clapping, usually with smiles and perhaps an occasional tear.

Then Abi took her turn. Several times her voice broke, especially when she said, "I love you guys," to her teammates. Around the gym, fans reached for their Kleenex.

Then it was over. Before they left the court, however, the team posed for a photo.

In the press conference afterwards, Coach Balcomb talked about the game and the seniors. .

Then Abi and Ashley answered questions from the press.

Sophomore guards Dee Davis and Caroline Williams were there, too. Dee's 16 second half points and Caroline's four 3-pointers in the second half helped ensure that the seniors' last game in Memorial Gym was a W.

Afterwards, Ashley and Abi joined the Commodore Crew upstairs in the Donor Room for questions and answers. When asked how she manages to get so many rebounds, Ashley said that it helps that she has big hands. Yep, Abi agreed.

They also talked about their future plans. Abi said that she will likely be enrolled in graduate school in the Department of Human and Organizational Development to complete a master's degree. Ashley hopes to play professionally for a while, but wants to go to law school in the future.

* * * * *

Photographs copyright 2005 by Whitney D. for Top Stories