Lady Vols upend Commodore women, 73-53

KNOXVILLE-- The Tennessee Lady Vols celebrated Senior Day on Sunday afternoon by snapping Vanderbilt's seven-game winning streak with a 73-53 over the Dores. Carla Thomas was the sole Vanderbilt player in double figures with 23 points. Candace Parker led the Lady Vols with 21 points.

Since the last meeting between the two teams, the Vanderbilt's hallmark has been consistent execution, great shooting, and jumping out to an early lead.

On Sunday, however, the usually efficient Vanderbilt offense only shot 32.7% from the field and managed only eleven assists, well below their season average of 19 assists per game.

"Obviously, it wasn't our night," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "When we missed some easy shots, it became contagious, and we started getting really tight, and then we started hesitating.

"I have to give [Tennessee] credit," she said. "They played hard on defense and forced us out farther than we wanted to. It's hard because we didn't bring our best today."

Like so many games over the past month, the Dores were able to build a lead in the first four minutes of the game on a 3-pointer by Tina Wirth that gave Vanderbilt a 7-3 lead.

But unlike the other games, that slim lead turned out to be Vanderbilt's last lead of the game. From that point onward, the Lady Vols slowly but surely pulled away. With seven minutes left in the first half, their lead reached double digits at 26-15, and Vanderbilt was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.

For the rest of the half, the Dores were able to stop the bleeding and went to halftime still trailing by 11 points at 40-29. Coming out of the locker room, Vanderbilt cut the lead to six points on a 3-pointer by Jen Risper before the first media timeout.

After the timeout, Tennessee's Nicky Anosike was whistled for an offensive foul and was slapped with a technical foul after reacting to the call. The awarded free throws allowed Vanderbilt to cut the lead to just four points at 42-38 with 15 minutes left in the game.

But the Dores could come no closer. In less than five minutes a 15-3 run by the Lady Vols stretched the lead out to 16 points at 57-41. After that, Vanderbilt never came closer than 13 points, and by the end of the game, the margin of victory had grown to 20 points.

"It's so mental," said Balcomb. "That's the piece that's tough to swallow. They want it so bad -- especially these three seniors -- they want it so bad that it's hard for them. We just didn't play the way we've played the last seven games. This looked more like the team we took to Ole Miss."

With the loss, Vanderbilt ended the regular season at 24-5, 10-4 in the SEC. Next action for the Dores will be in the SEC tournament in the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. Vanderbilt is the #3 seed in the tournament, which means a first round bye. The Dores' first game will be on Friday evening at 9:30 p.m. ET against the winner of the Mississippi State/Florida game, which will be played on Thursday.


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Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, center, congratulates Vanderbilt senior guard Dee Davi, left, s as she's introduced before a college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007, in Knoxville, Tenn. Teammate senior guard Caroline Williams looks on.(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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