Vanderbilt survived a second half rally by a determined Colorado squad to defeat the Buffs 81-76 Sunday afternoon in the Coors Event Center in Boulder Colorado. Carla Thomas led the 'Dores in scoring with 26 points, followed by Caroline Williams with 21 points and Tina Wirth with 14.
Colorado held the upper hand in the early minutes, hitting five
3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game to take a 19-11 lead.
"They came out hot and fired up," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie
Balcomb after the game. "When you play teams that are ranked preseason,
people are going to be fired up at home to beat them, and they're going
to bring their best game, and we have to be ready for that."
A 3-pointer Williams began to turn the tide, and soon afterwards Wirth
tied the game with a 3-pointer and then gave Vanderbilt the lead on a
pair of made free throws with 10 minutes left in the first half.
For a few minutes the lead went back and forth until another 3-pointer
from Williams put Vanderbilt ahead for good at 28-26 with 7:17 left in
the first half. As the first half came to a close, 'Dores began to
take control with the lead growing to as much as eight points.
But when a basket by Whitney Houston cut the lead back to just five
points with four seconds left in the half , it looked like the Buffs would
take the momentum into the locker room. Just as swiftly, however, the
momentum changed again when Meredith Marsh banked in a 3-pointer from
halfcourt as time expired for the first points of her Vanderbilt career.
For the first five minutes of the second half, Vanderbilt threatened to
turn the game into a blowout as they took a 17-point lead at 57-40.
But slowly and surely, the Buffs scrapped and clawed their way back
into it, and little by little the once-formidable Vanderbilt lead
"The toughest part for us was we got a big lead in the second half and
then played too passive," said Balcomb. "We really struggled
defensively and got into some foul trouble. They really did a good job stepping
up and they got the momentum going, and it was tough for us to respond."
At the 9-minute mark, the Buffs had cut the lead back to single-digits
and kept whittling away, buoyed by the enthusiastic hometown crowd.
With 1:57 left in the game, the Vanderbilt lead had shrunk to just four
points at 69-65 when yet another 3-pointer from Williams gave the
'Dores a 7-point lead. When a pair of free throws from Dee Davis increased
the lead to 9 with 53 seconds left, a Vanderbilt victory appeared
But the Buffs still weren't done. A combination of a couple of key
missed free throws on the Vanderbilt end of the court and a couple of
Vanderbilt fouls on the other end, opened the door for Colorado. With 23
seconds left, the Vanderbilt lead was a very slim 2 points at 74-76.
At that point, Colorado had no choice but to continue to send
Vanderbilt to the free throw line. Davis hit a pair of free throws, and Williams
followed suit. With the 'Dores being careful not to foul, Houston hit a
jumper with six seconds left to cut the lead back to four points at
80-76. Then the Buffs sent Davis to the line again, where she missed her
first but sank the second to seal the 81-76 victory.
With one road win under their belts, the Commodores will hit the road
again on Thursday when they travel to Bowling Green to play Western
Kentucky. In their first home game of the season, the 'Dores will host
Dartmouth on Saturday, November 18.
Game time for the Dartmouth game is 4:00 p.m., following the
Tennessee-Vanderbilt football game. Fans attending the football game can bring
their tickets to Memorial Gym to receive free admission to the basketball
Vandy women top Colorado, 81-76
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