Larry Bird's jersey hangs high in the rafters of the Hulman Center.
Vanderbilt tries to follow the same pregame routine on the game as on the road, including player introductions. It isn't always easy, however, where the PA announcer speeds through the visitors introductions and there isn't a ball rack near the visitors' tunnel entrance to the court.
A sizable contingent of students cheered the Sycamores on from the court-level student section behind the endline adjacent to the visitors' bench. During the introductions of the visitors, they turned their backs to the court.
Sycamore Sam prowled the baseline in front of the student section. Why is the mascot a fox instead of a tree? According to local fans, the team got their nickname from the "Sycamores", the Native Americans who were the original inhabitants of the area. Originally, the mascot was an Indian, but was later changed to the fox.
For Jence Rhoads, the game at ISU was her first road trip as a college player. ISU's point guard Angela Phillips knows what it's like to be a freshman point guard in the SEC. In 2003-04, when Dee Davis was Vanderbilt's freshman point guard, Phillips was the freshman point guard for Kentucky. After her sophomore season, she transferred to ISU.
When Jessica Mooney went to the free throw line in the first half after Vanderbilt had missed four straight free throws, she scored Vanderbilt's first point from the charity stripe. As it turned out, the free throw woes would continue throughout the game, with the Dores finishing 3 for 14 from the free throw line.
Liz Sherwood was nearly unstoppable in the low block, hitting 9 of her 12 shots from the field. But foul trouble limited her playing time.
Jen Risper recorded the first double double of her Vanderbilt career with 12 points and 13 rebounds. She filled out her stat line with 5 assists, 6 steals and 0 turnovers. Her 13 rebounds were the most ever by a guard during the Melanie Balcomb era.
After ISU took over the lead at 40-37 early in the second half, Coach Balcomb called timeout. Then Lauren Lueders sank a three to tie the score. A steal and a bucket by Risper and Sherwood's offensive rebound and putback put the Dores back on top.
Merideth Marsh shared the point guard duties with Rhoads. With Vanderbilt trailing 53-50, on this play, she drove, then dished to Amber Norton who finished the play
For most of the second half, Vanderbilt was playing catchup. Both times that ISU's lead grew to 7 points, Risper countered with a basket to keep the Sycamore's lead from growing bigger.
With Vanderbilt trailing 60-59 with two minutes to play in regulation, Wirth's jumper put the Dores back on top.
A minute later, Vanderbilt was trailing once again, this time by three points at 63-60. Marsh's 3-pointer tied the score, then on the other end of the court, she pulled down the defensive rebound that ended ISU's chance to win the game in regulation.
In the overtime period, Risper scored four points and assisted on another basket, and Wirth scored five, including a 3-pointer that cut the ISU lead to one-point at 73-72 with 30 seconds remaining.
Then a defensive stop was needed, and the Dores almost got it, but were whistled for a foul on a 3-point shot. The three made free throws gave the Sycamores a 4-point lead with 38 seconds remaining.
Wirth hit a 3-pointer to cut ISU's lead back to one point at 73-72 with 30 seconds left. Trailing by one with 26 seconds left, Coach Balcomb called timeout.
When Vanderbilt was unable to force a turnover, they were forced to foul to regain possession of the ball. Unfortunately for the Dores, Phillips was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line in the waning seconds, and Vanderbilt's shots didn't fall, resulting in a 77-72 victory for ISU, and a jubilant celebration by the ISU students at center court.
Photos copyright 2007 for Whitney D by VandyMania.com