VU Women Win 2009 SEC Tournament

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR-Vanderbilt became SEC Tournament Champions for the second time in three years by defeating Auburn 61-54 in the tournament finals on Sunday afternoon. Tina Wirth led the team with 20 points and was named tournament MVP. Jen Risper joined her on the All-Tournament team.

Game time!!

Auburn jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game. Vanderbilt didn't score their first basket until Tia Gibbs sank a 3-pointer at the 14:54 mark. Soon afterwards, Merideth Marsh hit this one to make the score 8-6 in favor of Auburn.

Midway through the first half, Vanderbilt caught up and took the lead. Late in the first half, a couple of steals led to fastbreak layups by Jessica Mooney, including this one that put Vanderbilt up 19-16. The Dores held the lead for the rest of the game.

Tina Wirth scored to give Vanderbilt a 24-18 lead with 3:44 left in the first half.

A pair of free throws by Jen Risper gave Vanderbilt a double-digit lead at 31-21 with a minute left in the first half, and the Dores took that lead into the locker room.

A foul by Whitney Boddie sent Tina Wirth to the free throw line early in the second half. Wirth missed one and hit one to make the score 34-25.

Jen Risper, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, finished the game with 12 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and three assists with no turnovers. She was named to the All-Tournament team.

Tina Wirth was the only Vanderbilt player over 6 feet tall, which meant that she defended the opposing post players throughout the tournament, including 6-7 Keke Carrier.

This 3-pointer gave the Dores their biggest lead of the night at 47-35 with 9:58 left.

But the Tigers chipped away, and an old-fashioned 3-point play by DeWanna Bonner cut the lead to three points at 49-46 with 5:17 left in the game. But Vanderbilt quickly countered on this 3-pointer by Merideth Marsh.

This 3-pointer by Tia Gibbs, her fourth of the night, put the Dores ahead by seven, at 55-48 with 3:19 left in the game. Gibbs finished with 12 points and three assists with no turnovers.

In the closing minutes, Auburn stayed close, but every time the Tigers scored, Vanderbilt was able to answer. Jence Rhoads' layup with 1:16 left in the game made the score 57-50.

With 30 seconds left, Jen Risper was fouled. She hit one of the awarded free throws to make the score 59-54.

With 20 seconds left, Tina Wirth picked off an Auburn pass and immediately passed to Merideth Marsh, who hasn't missed a free throw since January 29. Marsh was fouled, then stepped to the line and sank both free throws to make it a 3-possession game at 61-54, which turned out to be the final margin of the game.

With the victory Vanderbilt became the 2009 SEC Tournament Champion and earned the SEC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

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Photos copyright 2009 by WhitneyD for

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