Pregame warmups for Big Red
Neither team scored for the first four minutes of the game. Arkansas broke the ice, then Vanderbilt's first points of the game came on free throws by Jen Risper
Freshman point guard Jence Rhoads had two assists with one turnover in 18 minutes of play.
Tom Collen, who was initially hired then quickly un-hired by Vanderbilt after Jim Foster departed for Ohio State, is in his first season as head coach of the Lady Razorbacks.
"We let [Merideth] Marsh get loose for two 3s in the first half," Collen said after the game. "That was frustrating," he added.
Arkansas held Tina Wirth, Vanderbilt's leading scorer, to 10 points, but Wirth recorded four assists and four steals in the game. Sixth-year senior Sarah Pfeiffer drew the defensive assignment on Wirth and stuck to her like glue for almost the entire game.
Liz Sherwood scored the 1,000th point of her Vanderbilt career in the first half. "Sherwood is just . . ," said Collen, momentarily at a loss for words. "I just don't know what you do with her. You guard her and you hope she misses."
This basket by Hannah Tuomi put Vanderbilt up 34-28 early in the second half.
Both Wirth and Pfeiffer played the entire 40 minutes of the game. They got to know each other so well that they might be exchanging Christmas cards this year.
Marsh played 38 minutes of the game, finishing with eight points, four rebounds, a steal and no turnovers.
Marsh was fouled by Brittany Vaughn on this drive -- although the fans at Bud Walton Arena didn't agree with the call -- and hit the free throws to put Vanderbilt ahead 41-35.
The LadyBacks closed the gap to 44-42 with 8:54 left in the game. Then late in the shot clock, Jessica Mooney hit her third 3-pointer of the game to give the Dores a little bit of breathing room.
"[Mooney and Sherwood] have been a spark for us all year coming off the bench," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "I've told everybody we've had a starting seven, and it's been a really consistent rotation, since we've been in the SEC."
"We knew going in that we were going to have to play really really hard and scrap with them because that's one thing that I think they do as well as anybody in our league," said Collen when talking about Vanderbilt in the post-game press conference.
Vanderbilt was leading by five points at 53-48, when Risper was fouled on this drive with 3:14 left in the game. She hit both of the awarded free throws to put the Dores up by seven.
In the end, the Dores had to make their free throws - and they did. For the game, Vanderbilt made 13 of 14 foul shots, including six out of seven in the last few minutes of the game to seal the win.
Photos copyright 2008 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com.