VU Women Win Second Exhibition Game

The Vanderbilt women's basketball team wrapped up the exhibition season with a 76-41 victory over Anderson College Monday night in Memorial Gym. Senior post Liz Sherwood led the Dores with 23 points. Junior guard Jen Risper and freshman point guard Jence Rhoads contributed 10 points each.

After last week's exhibition game, Coach Melanie Balcomb was less than pleased with the team's effort, especially the last ten minutes of the game. "They watched the entire first game on film," she said. "I told them they didn't have to watch the entire of this one.

"We learned a lot of lessons in the first one," she continued. "I hope everybody saw that we had a different mentality in this game."

One of the changes that Balcomb made for this game was the insertion of point guard Jence Rhoads into the starting lineup.

"I'm starting defense first," said Balcomb. "Jen Risper and Jess Mooney, those are our two best defenders, and Jence Rhoads as a freshman isn't a slouch either.

"She anticipates really well and works really hard, so she's just getting better and better," said Balcomb. "Once she learns positioning and where she's supposed to be, she's very quick and anticipates.

This approach to the starting lineup gives Vanderbilt a different look than in recent years. The Dores have been known as a great 3-point shooting team, but this lineup features guards who Balcomb characterizes as "drivers", rather than shooters.

"Jence Rhoads can penetrate from anywhere ay time she wants to," said Balcomb. "She's very quick off the dribble and we'll get more penetration from the top as well."

"So I'm starting the defense this year more than I ever have and bringing shooters off the bench," she said.

The "shooters" coming off the bench include sophomores Merideth Marsh and Lauren Lueders who both contributed two 3-point baskets in last night's game. Last year, Marsh played the vast majority of her minutes in the point guard position. In both of the exhibition games, Marsh has logged significant minutes in the 2-guard position.

"I like that lineup a lot because you have height in the point so you aren't playing two small kids," said Balcomb. "But I like playing two point guards as well and Merideth can then play the 2 and shoot the basketball, and she shoots it very well."

The other "new" shooting guard in Monday night's game was junior Tina Wirth. As a freshman, Wirth learned to play every position except for point guard, but in her sophomore season, she primarily played one of the post positions. When the Dores got off to a relatively slow start offensively against Anderson's zone, Balcomb switched Wirth from the post to the 3-guard.

"I've got a pretty good memory, so it's not hard for me to remember plays, so I feel like it was pretty natural," Wirth said. "It's not hard for me to go back and forth."

Wirth's second 3-pointer of the first half was a key in the 20-0 Vanderbilt run in the last ten minutes of the first half, a run turned a 2-point game into a blowout.

With the exhibition season now completed, the Dores tip off the regular season with two home games this weekend. The season opens against the UAB Blazers at 7 p.m. on Friday and continues on Sunday at 2 p.m. against the Lady Paladins from Furman. Season tickets, which start as low as $25, are still available at 322-GOLD.

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Photographs copyright 2007 by Whitney D for Top Stories