Photo Story: Senior night for 3 great players

Tonight, the #7 LSU Lady Tigers visit Memorial Gym for the final home game of the season for the women's basketball team. After the game, the three seniors on the team -- point guard Dee Davis, post Carla Thomas, and guard Caroline Williams -- will be honored in Senior Night festivities.

VandyMania's Whitney D has followed them since Day 1 and shares some photographic memories from their stellar careers.

Day 1: The freshmen came to campus for the second semester of summer school in 2003. The team got together for the first time in the weight room the day after classes began. After two hours of benchmark testing, they posed for a team photo. (Click photo to view a larger image.)

Day 108: After practice, the seven freshmen posed for photos. Senior Jenni Benningfield grabbed a chair and joined the group for a photo, claiming that she was the "old lady."

Day 159: Against Weber State in December, Caroline hit her first two 3-pointers as a Commodore. Dee had started in her very first game at Vanderbilt, and Carla saw playing time from the beginning. As a walk-on with a pre-season injury, Caroline didn't see any action until the sixth game of the season.

Day 244: Carla's double double of 22 points and 11 rebounds in the SEC tournament finals propelled the team to the SEC tournament title and tournament MVP honors for Carla. Just before the SEC season began, a stress fracture had sidelined Jenni, and Carla started in her place and stayed in the post rotation for the rest of the year.

Day 244: Everyone on the team took turns cutting down the nets at the SEC tournament after Vanderbilt became only the second team in history to win the SEC tournament with four wins in four days. They went on to the Sweet 16, where their season ended on a buzzer beater in Norman, Oklahoma.

Day 382: When one season ends, another begins. Old teammates leave, and new teammates arrive, but summer workouts remain a constant.

Day 521: A college basketball career has high points -- and low points, too. A December night at Western Kentucky was one of the tough ones.

Day 522: Putting the loss behind them, the next morning the team helped to host the annual Student Athletes' Holiday Party for children from the Nashville area.

Day 596: Dee had her own special cheering section for a win over Florida in Gainesville.

Day 624: Caroline's parents helped celebrate a victory over Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Seattle, Washington. The victory sent the Dores to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.

Day 624: Carla Thomas's parents were there, too, as Carla scored 18 points in the win.

Day 711: When one season ends, another begins. Old teammates leave, and new teammates arrive, but summer workouts remain a constant. For Dee, summer workouts also meant rehab following knee surgery after the season ended.

Day 817: Caroline and other members of the basketball team volunteered at the Buddy Walk, a public awareness/fund-raising event of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennesse.

Day 830: The official start of team practices in the fall of 2005 co-incided with Homecoming Weekend. After the parade, Carla and her new teammates Jen Risper and Tina Wirth and the rest of the team went to their first official team practice of the season.

Day 843: The 2005-06 team was introduced at Hoop Jam. Carla won the free throw shooting contest, beating out Mario Moore after a long battle, and Caroline won the 3-point contest.

Day 1010: The season ended with a second round loss to North Carolina in Memorial Gym. A few weeks later at the awards banquet, Caroline posed with Parker Norman, son of Assistant Coach Stephanie Norman.

Day 1102:When one season ends, another begins. Old teammates leave, and new teammates arrive. In July, when Dee was the torch bearer for the 2006 AAU 13-under Division II Girls National Championship, the senior season for Dee, Carla, and Caroline had already begun.

Day 1111: Later in the month, new teammates Merideth Marsh and Lauren Lueders joined Dee, Liz Sherwood and Jen Risper and other Vanderbilt student-athletes and staff in painting the Boys & Girl Club.

Day 1143: At the end of the summer semester, the team posed for their official team portrait -- and a few unofficial team portraits, too, including this one. (Click photo to view a larger image.)

Day 1143: While the freshmen were busy with the official photographer, Caroline, Carla, and Dee posed for photos for Jen and Tina, with sometimes hilarious results.

Day 1150: On a cool weekend in late October, the team went to a Girl Scout camp outside of Nashville for a team-building retreat.

Day 1216: Just before the season started, the team volunteered at the Race for the Cure, the Susan Komen Foundation's annual fund-raiser for breast cancer research. Carla wore a card in memory of her cousin, Sammy Thomas, who lost her fight with breast cancer during the Dores' victorious run through the SEC tournament in 2004.

Day 1305: In the previous game at Arkansas, Dee had broken Ashley McElhiney's career assist record at Vanderbilt. But with Vanderbilt down by 1-point at Kentucky with 7 seconds to play, Coach Balcomb called her name, and Dee scored the winning basket. In the next game, Dee joined the 1000-point club.

Day 1315: Carla's 15 points against Auburn put her into seventh place on Vanderbilt's all-time scoring list with a total of 1,632 points.

Day 1322: Against South Carolina, Caroline hit six 3-pointers for the second game in a row -- and her 26 points also set a new career scoring high for the second game in a row. Caroline already owns the school record for 3-point percentage in a season with a .505 percentage (48-95) in her sophomore season. After the South Carolina game, her .500 percentage (80-160) put her at the top of the national rankings.

Day 1326: When they were freshmen, Carla, Dee and Caroline helped to honor their seniors. They did it again as sophomores and then again as juniors. Now it's their turn.

With a 22-4 record overall, and a 9-3 record in the SEC, there's still a lot of basketball ahead. But on Thursday night, when the #7 LSU Lady Tigers come to town, they will play their last game in Memorial Gym.

Game time is 8 p.m. to accommodate the broadcast on FSN, and Senior Night festivities will be held on the court after the game.

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Photos copyright 2003-07 by Whitney D for


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