VU Women Defeat Western Kentucky 75-54

A stellar defensive effort that produced 17 steals and nine blocked shots lifted Vanderbilt to a 75-54 victory over the Western Kentucky Lady Hilltoppers Thursday night in Memorial Gym. Liz Sherwood led Vanderbilt in scoring with 20 points, followed by Jessica Mooney with 16, and Jen Risper with 12.

Although "stellar defensive effort" is a phrase that accurately reflects Vanderbilt's performance in retrospect, the first five minutes of the game were another story. If the two teams had continued their torrid offensive pace prior to the first media timeout, the final score would have been 114-105.

Obviously, something changed.

"The way we started the game, we were exchanging baskets, and we didn't want to do that," said Head Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "Our goal was to pressure them, trap them, force them into turnovers and get offense off our turnovers."

At the beginning of the game, that wasn't happening, so Balcomb took action. "I was subbing early right away, just for defense," she said. "I was trying to stress to the players that we didn't want to exchange baskets."

"If they weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing on defense, like getting beat off a drive from a driver, or having their hands down on a shooter and shots being taken right in their face or not trapping when they were supposed to trap -- whenever they weren't executing right on defense, I was just yanking them," she said.

"The minute they did something wrong on defense, I took them out because I knew defense was going to be the difference in this game. We shouldn't be exchanging baskets to start a game like that."

The changes paid off. In the first few minutes of the first half before the timeout, Western had made five of their six field goals attempts. In the remainder of the half, the Lady Toppers were 2 for 20 from the field. In the meantime, Jessica Mooney provided both an offensive and defensive spark off the bench with 11 first half points to help the Dores to a 35-26 halftime lead.

Vanderbilt's defensive efforts carried over to the second half, and less than five minutes into the half, that 9-point halftime lead had ballooned to 20 points at 50-30. After that, Western was never able to cut the deficit below 20 points. The Dores kept the pressure on, and by the end of the game had forced a total of 29 turnovers and held the Lady Toppers to 30.8% shooting from the field.

With the victory, Vanderbilt improved to 8-2 for the season. Next action for the Dores will be on Sunday afternoon, when they host Colorado, a team that just defeated #21-ranked Wyoming.

Following Sunday's game, the team will have a 13-day break between game as the student-athletes are finishing the semester and taking final exams. Action will then resume on December 22 when Lipscomb comes to visit.

Mr. Commodore's new look

Jessica Mooney

Jessica Mooney

Liz Sherwood

Jen Risper

Rebecca Silinski

Chanel Chisholm

Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney D for

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