VU Women Beat Iowa State 62-53

Four Commodores scored in double figures as Vanderbilt defeated the Iowa State Cyclones in the championship game of the Thanksgiving Tournament Sunday afternoon. Lauren Lueders led the Dores with 14 points, followed by Merideth Marsh with 11, and Amber Norton and Tina with 10 points each.

Iowa State's Heather Ezell scored the first points of the game on a 3-pointer, but baskets by Jen Risper and Liz Sherwood gave Vanderbilt their first lead of the game a 4-3.

Two of Merideth Marsh's points came on a fastbreak basket following a steal in the first half.

Sophomore post Amber Norton provided a spark from the bench. With Iowa State leading 11-7, Coach Melanie Balcomb put Amber Norton into the game.

"Amber Norton just blew me away tonight; she just came in and was a difference maker, absolutely," Coach Balcomb said after the game. "I went with Amber for her defense, and then she ended up doing really well offensively."

"That's how Amber has been practicing," she said. "She's playing with a lot of confidence, and it was good to see her carry over her practice habits to the game."

Vanderbilt's defense was a key to the game. "We got 20 points [off turnovers] to their seven – that's offense off our defense," said Coach Balcomb. "That's the difference in the game right now. We're getting points off that defense, and Jen Risper's the one leading that. She's been amazing as far as getting steals and getting a lot of offense. And then your offense can relax."

Sophomore guard Lauren Lueders is known for her 3-point shooting and had three 3-pointers for the day, but she scored in other ways, too, including this basket on a backdoor cut late in the first half.

"Lauren gives us a lot of hard work, positive energy, and she's a great 3-point shooter, but I think she's also passing the ball very well," said Coach Balcomb.

"She worked really hard to her a starting spot, and she's made the most of it, and she's just been building confidence every since."

At the end of the first half, a 3-pointer from Lueders gave Vanderbilt a 29-23 halftime lead. In the second half, Lueders picked up where she left off at the end of the first half, scoring Vanderbilt's first points of the second half off a steal and a fastbreak basket.

Vanderbilt never trailed in the second half, but Iowa State was persistent, continuously threatening to close the gap. But every time the Cyclones got close, Vanderbilt had an answer, such as Tina Wirth's 3-pointer when the Cyclones had closed the gap to 40-35.

Although Vanderbilt had led by as much as 14 points earlier in the second half, with a minute left, Vanderbilt's lead was 10 points, and Iowa State began to foul to send the Dores to the line. Marsh hit her two free throws.

After a basket by Toccara Ross, the Cyclones sent Risper to the free throw line, where she sank both of her free throws to seal Vanderbilt's 62-53 victory.

At the awards ceremony following the game, Wirth was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

The All-Tournament team included Krista Phillips from Michigan (not shown in this photo), Nicky Wieben and Alison Lacey from Iowa State, and Jen Risper and Liz Sherwood from Vanderbilt.

After receiving the championship trophy, the team posed for a photo. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

With the victory, Vanderbilt improves to 5-1 on the season. Next action for the Commodores is Wednesday night, when they host the #9 Duke Blue Devils at 7 p.m. Admission is free for Vanderbilt faculty and staff and their party, up to six people.

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(Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney D. for Top Stories