That lead turned out to be short-lived, however. Baskets by Jessica Mooney off a steal and Jen Risper gave Vanderbilt the lead at 4-3. When Tina Wirth hit two 3-pointers within 20 seconds to give the Dores a 10-3 lead, UAB coach Audra Smith quickly called a timeout.
But it was too late. By then Vanderbilt was out and running, and the 3-point shooters were heating up. Lauren Lueders hit two 3-pointers in quick succession, and Merideth Marsh added one, then Wirth added yet another.
In the meantime, Liz Sherwood and Mooney were scoring in the paint, and the Dores' defense had not yet allowed another UAB field goal. Taken together, it added up to a 27-4 Vanderbilt lead midway through the first half, and the game was never close after that.
After the game, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb was obviously pleased with her team's defense, especially in the first half when the Blazers shot only 16% from the field.
"Our biggest goal was to keep them in front," she said. "They're extremely athletic, and they can get to the basket. And we knew we better keep the ball in front, check out, challenge every shot and do a really good job on the boards.
"I thought we did a great job of that in the first half. They ended up having to go one-on-one a lot, and had zero assists at half, and I thought that was a key stat. We didn't give them any penetration where they could penetrate and kick or penetrate and dump. They were all just going one-on-one, we were keeping them in front, and they were shooting 16% from the field."
The lopsided score allowed Balcomb to get all of her players onto the court, including all four of the freshmen on the team. Freshman point guard Jence Rhoads started the game, played 27 minutes, all at the point, and finished the game with five assists and only one turnover. Freshman post Hannah Tuomi had five points, four rebounds. Guard Chanel Chisholm had four points, two rebounds and an assist, and post Rebecca Silinks had three points, one rebound, and an assist.
In all, every Dore played at least five minutes, and every player tallied at least one field goal. "Obviously that's not going to happen all year, " Balcomb said. "But because we didn't let up and the players that came in off the bench did a good job and kept building the lead, we could afford to play a lot of people."
In Friday night's game, her bench was very productive indeed. Out of Vanderbilt's 92 points for the game, the starters scored 41, while the bench scored 51, led by Malo and Marsh. Marsh scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Malo scored 10 points and also contributed five rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
After a day off on Saturday, the team takes the court again on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. when Furman visits. After that, the Dores go on the road for two games before returning home for the annual Thanksgiving Tournament games on Friday, November 23 and Sunday, November 24. On Friday, Vanderbilt will play Belmont, while Michigan plays Iowa State. The championship and consolation games will follow on Sunday.
Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com.