Conquer and PREVAIL!

DULUTH, GA-- How sweet it is! Vanderbilt is the 2007 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament Champions! In a defensive slugfest Vanderbilt outscored LSU 8-3 over the final 3 minutes to defeat LSU, 51-45. It was the Commodores third tournament title in the last 6 years.

LSU led 43-42 with 3:08 remaining in the game when 2 Dee Davis free throws put Vanderbilt up 44-43 with just under 3 minutes remaining. After a Commodore defensive stop, Tina Wirth's lay-up put Vanderbilt up 46-43 with 2:03 to go. With just over a minute to go Dee Davis missed shot but the ball was tipped out to Caroline Williams enabling the Commodores to run more time off the clock. Later, Ashley Thomas of LSU made two free throws after being fouled by Vanderbilt's Jessica Mooney with 30 seconds remaining to bring LSU to within 1 at 46-45. Mooney had earlier may two key baskets to keep Vanderbilt in the game and finished with 5 points.

LSU pressed hard to deny Vanderbilt's ensuing attempt to inbound the ball, however, Carla Thomas spotted and passed to an open Dee Davis who was able to sprint to an easy lay-up that put the Commodores up 48-43 with 24 seconds to go in the game, which at that point was the biggest lead of the game for either team. LSU missed on a 3-point attempt and Jen Risper was quickly fouled sending her to the line for the coupe de grace. Risper calmly sank the two free throws to give Vanderbilt a 50-45 lead. After Vanderbilt made another free throw, LSU's futile attempts to score in the final seconds were denied by the Commodores.

In the first half the two teams battled back and forth with rare scoring occurrences. The lead changed hands multiple times and neither team could build its lead to more than 5 points. Vanderbilt, one of the top 3-point shooting teams nationally, did not have a successful 3-point attempt in the first half and could only manage one trey for the entire game. A 2-point basket by Caroline Williams put Vanderbilt up at the half, 24-23.

The Commodore's tenacious defense limited LSU's star center Sylvia Fowles to just 13 points and 9 rebounds. In an impressive effort on Saturday against regular season champion Tennessee, Fowles had 20 rebounds and 19 points.

The Commodores were led in scoring by Davis with 19. Carla Thomas, who was named the Tournament MVP, added 13. Vanderbilt's Tina Wirth was named to the All-Tournament Team. Rashonta LeBlanc led the Tigers in scoring with 19.

Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb was thrilled with her team's effort, "I know it wasn't as pretty as our first two games. I think what's important is we showed we can play any tempo. I know it was their tempo, their low score. And we battled. We battled down the stretch. I was really proud of our defensive effort, and defense wins championships. I think that's what happened tonight," said Balcomb.

LSU's Pokey Chatman complimented Vanderbilt for the fine defensive effort, "we knew going into the game we were going to face a very good offensive team with a ton of weapons, but also a team that probably doesn't get the credit they deserve for the match up zone that they play. We thought we had some things figured out in terms of what we needed to do in order to attack that."

It was the fifth SEC Tournament Championship in Vanderbilt history. Vanderbilt previously won tournament titles in 2003-04, 2001-02, 1994-95 and 1992-93. The Commodores have been to 7 tournament finals.

Vanderbilt will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. LSU will await a very likely at-large bid.


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