Sun Devils outshine Dores in opener, 69-60

TEMPE, Ariz.-- The 2005-06 season got off to a bumpy start on Saturday night for the No. 16 Vanderbilt women's basketball team as it fell to the No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils 69-60 in the first round of the WBCA/BTI Classic. The Commodores meet the Clemson Tigers in the consolation game of the tournament on Saturday at 5 pm CT.

TEMPE, Ariz.-- The 2005-06 season got off to a bumpy start on Saturday night for the No. 16 Vanderbilt women's basketball team as it fell to the No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils 69-60 in the first round of the WBCA/BTI Classic.

Four Commodores scored in double figures in the loss. Sophomore Liz Sherwood scored 17 points and pulled down 8 rebounds in her official debut as a Commodore. Junior guard Cherish Stringfield scored 12 points, and junior post Carla Thomas and junior guard Caroline Williams scored 10 points each. Freshman guard/forward Tina Wirth led the team with nine rebounds.

For the first ten minutes both teams looked as if they hadn't played a game in over six months. At the second media timeout with 11:12 left in the first half, there had been more turnovers than points. The score was 7-6 in favor of ASU, and the turnover count was 9-7, also in favor of the Sun Devils.


During that span, the Sun Devils' aggressive pressure defense led to five steals, while the Commodores had two. But two other turnovers were especially costly for Vanderbilt, as they were offensive fouls called on Thomas. She incurred her first offensive foul less than 10 seconds into the game. When she picked up a second offensive foul at the 14:25 mark, she went to the bench for the remainder of the half.

Both teams continued to struggle offensively through the first half. Through most of the half, the Sun Devils held a narrow lead, but the Commodores took their first lead of the game with four minutes left in the half, and when the halftime buzzer sounded, Vanderbilt led 24-21.

The first half statistics were dismal for both teams. Vanderbilt had 18 first half turnovers; ASU had 15. The Sun Devils shot a miserable 28.0% from the field; the Commodores were 0-5 from 3-point range.

The offense flowed better for both teams as they began the second half. ASU briefly took the lead at 25-24 right after halftime, but Vanderbilt immediately reclaimed it and built up an 8-point lead at 38-30 with 14:13 left in the game.

Then the tide slowly began to turn. ASU crept closer, and the crowd started to get back into the game, too. A basket by Thomas silenced them momentarily, but when the Sun Devils took the lead at 44-43, the arena began to rock.

A layup by Sherwood gave the Commodores the lead back, but Emily Westerburg countered on the other end giving the Sun Devils the lead for good. Then an 7-0 ASU run gave the home team a 9-point cushion. From that point on, Vanderbilt had to play catchup, but was never able to close the gap, and when the final buzzer sounded, the Sun Devils claimed the 69-60 victory.

With the defeat, the Commodores will meet the Clemson Tigers in the consolation game of the tournament on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT.

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