Vanderbilt never led in the game. In the first half, the Commodores struggled offensively, and by the middle of the first half Tennessee had built a 10-point lead at 20-10. A jumper by Jenni Benningfield briefly cut the margin back to six points with 3:43 remaining, but a 7-0 Tennessee run, capped by a 3-pointer by Loree Moore, gave Tennessee a 13-point lead. Baskets by Zuzi Klimesova and Chantelle Anderson trimmed the lead to single digits at halftime at 34-25.
The second half started ominously for the Commodores, as the Lady Vols quickly built their lead to 15 points. From there on, it was an uphill battle for Vanderbilt, but the Commodores began to slowly chip away. A 3-pointer by Abi Ramsey cut the lead to seven at 46-39 with 13:06 remaining, and Vanderbilt finally pulled within 2 points at 57-55 with 7:11 remaining.
With 1:26 left and the score at 63-58, a shot clock violation by Tennessee gave Vanderbilt an opening, and a layup by Chantelle Anderson cut the score to 63-60. But that's as close as the Commodores could get. A jumper by Michelle Snow with 49 seconds remaining proved to be the dagger in the heart. Vanderbilt fouled to get possession in the closing seconds, but Brittany Jackson made two critical free throws to basically put the game out of reach at 67-60 with 19 seconds left. Kara Lawson's missed free throw with 9 seconds left led to Zuzi Klimesova's 3-pointer with a second left. But it was too little, too late, and the Lady Vols claimed mthe 68-63 victory.
Vanderbilt was led in scoring by Chantelle Anderson with 35 points, followed by Zuzi Klimesova with 18. Anderson was also leading rebounder with 12. Jenni Benningfield had 6 assists with only one turnover, and Ashley McElhiney and Jillian Danker dished out 5 asists each. Anderson's points pushed her career points over 2,000, as she became only the second Commodore in history to reach that milestone.
Tennessee was led in scoring by Gwen Jackson with 18, followed by Brittany Jackson with 10. Gwen Jackson was also leading rebounder with 12.
For the game, Vanderbilt shot 53.3% from the field, compared to 41.9% for Tennessee. Tennessee out-rebounded the Commodores 34-26 and had 9 turnovers compared to 14 for Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt's usually reliable free throw shooting wasn't apparent. Anderson again had a spectacular performance from the line, hitting 11 of 12, but the rest of the team combined 1 for 6, including two misses on the front end of one-and-one opportunities.
With the loss, Vanderbilt finishes the season at 30-7, while the Lady Vols advance to the national semi-finals Friday night against the Connecticut Huskies.
The Press: Can you talk about the first half offensive struggles?
Vanderbilt Center Chantelle Anderson: We picked up our dribble a lot, and when you pick up your dribble, their pressure is in your face so you have to keep your dribble to keep the pressure off you. We didn't do that. We weren't back-cutting. People were running away from the ball.
The Press: Was the first half deficit too big a hole to climb out of?
Chantelle: It wasn't too big a hole to come out of, but tonight it proved to be. There's never too much to come from. But I think our first half was a problem.
The Press: Can you talk about the baskets by Michelle Snow at the end of the game?
Vanderbilt Forward Zuzi Klimesova: I think it was a miscommunication on our part. I think that we deviated somewhat from our defensive plan to communicate to get into position and she got the ball where she is the best with it and with her skills, she's very good with the turnaround, and that's what she did and she scored. . . . We did our scouting report for what people are the best at and that's where we tried to get in the way, and we didn't.
The Press: How would you respond to Chantelle's comments?
Coach Foster: I think it's right on. We didn't space, didn't cut. When we don't do that, the opportunity to pull the dribble up and don't have an outlet for it. It's something we work very hard on, but just weren't in sync with it.
The Press: (inaudible)
Coach Foster: Snow made some big shots. We were behind her. We shouldn't have been behind her, we should have been in front of her. She has a nice touch, a nice turnaround. She had a rhythm.
The Press: Were they doing any defensively that was different or unexpected?
Coach Foster: No, same way they've been playing all year.
The Press: Could Chantelle had done anything more?
Coach Foster: Yes, she could have been in front of Michelle. She knows that. She's her harshest critic sometimes.
The Press: What as the difference in the two halves?
Coach Foster: Our lack of movement in the first half. Obviously we were a much different team. Even though we had a decent field goal percentage in the first half, we weren't moving to get opportunistic baskets by other people.
The Press: Chantelle had 35 points, but what about someone else stepping up ?
Coach Foster: Well, that's where the movement comes in. That's where they get their opportunities, when they're back-cutting, getting some layups, getting more ball reversal. It was pretty easy to find Chantelle, so I don't think people were missing opportunities to get shots there, because why would you, when you have player getting the kind of shots she was getting, go in another direction? But our cuts would have created opportunities for them in that first half.
Vanderbilt finishes with loss to TN Lady Vols
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