VU Women Win Second Exhibition Game

Vanderbilt survived a tenacious Love and Basketball team to win their second exhibition game by a score of 83-74. Tina Wirth led all scorers with 20 points. Freshman Tia Gibbs added 17, and Hannah Tuomi scored 14.

In their second exhibition game of the season, the Vanderbilt women faced a tougher test than in their previous exhibition against Tusuculum, an NCAA Division II team. Love and Basketball is a traveling team composed of former D1 players and provided a bigger challenge in terms of height, athleticism, and experience.

The Dores got off to a sizzling start, taking a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Love and Basketball called a 30-second timeout, and when play resumed, Vanderbilt went cold. Over a 5-minute stretch the Dores didn't hit a field goal, and soon the score was tied at 13-13.

"I think we played in spurts," Head Coach Melanie Balcomb said after the game. "We had great moments, and we had horrible moments. We either looked good or we looked bad. We lost focus, we were flat at times, didn't have energy at times, and then we got all five people on the same page, we looked great."

After Love and Basketball had tied the score, the Dores went on another spurt, reaching a double-digit lead, which they maintained for most of the remainder of the first half, thanks in part to 10 points from Tia Gibbs in the last five minutes of the half. Gibbs' third 3-pointer gave Vanderbilt a 14-point lead at 45-31 going into the locker room.

"What I love about Tia - and I joked about this in the locker room - you know what you're getting," said Balcomb. "Her face never changes, and I called her 'No drama Obama' in the locker room.

"She's great at shooting, and she knows she's a good shooter and has that confidence. That's something we need, which we needed tonight against the zone, We know what we're going to get from her which is great from a freshman."

Early in the second half, Vanderbilt's lead quickly reached 18 points at 49-31 on a layup by Tuomi. But turnovers and fouls helped Love and Basketball get back into the game, and by midway through the second half, Vanderbilt held only a slim 1-point lead at 57-56.

A pair of 3-pointers by Wirth and Ashlee Bridge helped push the lead back to double digits, but the opponents kept hanging around. With two minutes left in the game, Vanderbilt led by only three points at 72-69. But then Gibbs and Wirth each sank a couple of free throws to give the Dores a little breathing room on their way to the 83-74 victory.

With the exhibition season behind them, the Dores now look forward to the beginning of the regular season next week when they host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Friday night in Memorial Gym. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Hannah Tuomi

Jen Risper

Jen Risper

Merideth Marsh

Tina Wirth

Tia Gibbs

* * * * *

Photos copyright 2008 by Whitney D. for

Commodores Daily Top Stories