VU women rally past USC, 67-66

COLUMBIA-- Two free throws from senior Dee Davis put the finishing touches on a Commodore comeback as the #12 Vanderbilt women's basketball team won, 67-66, at South Carolina Thursday inside the Colonial Center.

South Carolina opened the game with an adjusted 3 guard-starting lineup and it paid dividends as the Gamecocks bolted out to an early 14-5 run that spanned the first four minutes and 43 seconds. The Gamecocks, led by Stacy Booker, who scored a team high 14 points, held a 38-31 halftime lead.

In the second half Vanderbilt, plagued by missed lay-ups and free throws, fell behind by as many as 11 and trailed by 7 points with 2 minutes remaining. In the final minutes of the game Vanderbilt switched to a full court press and gradually got back into the game. Dee Davis hit a pair of free throws with 22.6 remaining to give Vanderbilt a 67-66 lead, its first of the game. The Gamecocks were unable to score on the ensuing possession to give Vanderbilt the victory. Vanderbilt forced 27 Gamecock turnovers while allowing 18.

"I think our kids showed a lot of poise. We missed lay-ups we don't miss and free throws we don't miss but they just kept playing and really stepped up during crunch time. We picked up the pressure defensively and that made a big difference in the last ten minutes of the game. We just tried to keep them off balance towards the end of the game. We don't press much, but in tonight's game we didn't have a choice and I think our kids handled it well," said Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb.

Carla Thomas led Vanderbilt in scoring with 26. Thomas now has 1,527 for her career and passed Karen Booker (1,522 points) for 10th all-time on the Commodores' career scoring chart. Other scorers for Vanderbilt included Christina Wirth 13; Caroline Williams 13; Dee Davis 8; Liz Sherwood 6 and Jessica Mooney 1.

Davis had 6 assists and now has 658 for her career moving her into the Southeastern Conference's Top 10 for career assists.

Vanderbilt improved to 15-2 (2-1 SEC) with the win. It was Vanderbilt's fifth consecutive victory over the Gamecocks in the series. The Commodores return home this weekend, playing host to Florida on Sunday. Tickets will be only $1 as part of a special "Jam the Gym" promotion by Vanderbilt marketing. South Carolina falls to 10-7 (0-2 SEC) and will host Alabama on Sunday.

South Carolina's Stacy Booker, top, wrestles the ball away from Vanderbilt's Jennifer Risper, during their basketball game Thursday night, Jan. 11, 2007, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Anne McQuary) Top Stories