Photo Story: Vandy hammers Auburn

Led by 15 points from Carla Thomas, Vanderbilt trounced the Auburn Tigers 80-45 Sunday afternoon in Memorial Gym. Caroline Williams and Liz Sherwood added 14 points each, and Jen Risper pulled down eight rebounds as the Dores improved to 21-4 (7-3 SEC) for the season.

Auburn won the opening tip but they failed to score on the possession. It was a sign of a long afternoon ahead for the Tigers. After the game, Auburn Head Coach Nell Fortner called the game "a meltdown of gigantic proportions, and it happened from the first offensive play."

For the second game in a row, the Dores jumped out to a big early lead, holding the Tigers scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game while building a 15-0 lead.

After the game, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb said there are two keys to the fast starts. "One is taking pride in your defense right away," she said. "The other thing is not taking the first shot in the first four minutes, but taking the BEST shot."

Sherwood provided a lift off the bench, scoring eight straight points during the first half. "The thing that's so good about her is that she buries you right under the basket," said Fortner. "When she gets the ball, her head is in the basket, and she does a really good job of getting great position."

Late in the first half, Auburn's Keke Carrier was whistled for a technical foul during scrum under the Auburn basket. Referee Bryan Enterline watched carefully as Sherell Hobbs talked with her and helped her calm down

Williams sank both of the free throws resulting from the technical foul to give Vanderbilt a 25-point lead just before halftime.

With the big lead, Coach Balcomb was able to give the younger players on the team plenty of playing time. Freshman post Amber Norton finished the game with six points, shooting three for four from the field in 16 minutes of play.

Redshirt freshman post Amy Malo scored on both of her field goal attempts despite Carrier's imposing physical presence in the paint.

Freshman point guard Merideth Marsh finished with five points, including a 3-pointer, four rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers in 18 minutes of play.

Freshman guard Ashlee Bridge completed an old-fashioned 3-point play after sinking her only shot from the field.

After Marsh fouled out of the game, freshman guard Jessica Mooney played the point for several minutes and wowed the crowd with her drives to the basket.

Sophomore guard Jen Risper had plenty of reasons to smile in the post-game press conference. Besides the team's victory, her own stat line included seven points, eight rebounds, three steals and four assists with only one turnover.

"Are you going to start playing center?" a reporter asked. "You know, I was working on my post moves the other day," she joked in return.

Meanwhile, out on the court, the rest of the team was giving a clinic for youngsters attending the game and signing autographs. Tina Wirth only played 16 minutes in the game, but hit the 3-pointer that ignited Vanderbilt's fast start. In those 16 minutes, she also recorded four rebounds, a steal, and three assists with no turnovers.

Norton had her own personal cheering section at the game, as friends and family once again made the 3-hour trip from Louisville for the game and afterwards had a few minutes to visit after the game before they headed north once again.

Next action for the Dores is in Starkville on Thursday night when they face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Then on Sunday they return home to Memorial Gym to host the South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday afternoon at 2. p.m. Fans attending Sunday's game are invited to participate the teams annual book drive to benefit the Charles Davis Foundation.

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Photos copyright 2007 by WhitneyD for Top Stories