"We kept fighting," Miller said of his 6-2 Bowling Green squad, with the only losses road games to perennially ranked programs Ohio State and Marist.
Playing their first game without the intensive spark of Jordan Coleman, a starting forward out for the season with a left knee injury suffered Wednesday against Wright State, the ‘Dores floundered on both offense and defense.
"She gets a lot of offensive rebounds and steals for us and we missed her energy to start the game," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. "We missed Jordan a lot and we didn't have enough time to adjust. Right now we are struggling to find enough people to play all positions."
Jordan joins freshman Stephanie Holzer, sidelined indefinitely as she recovers from an ankle injury, and sophomore transfer Angela Puleo on the bench.
Hitting 9 of 26 shots for 34.6% in the first half against Bowling Green's 53.8% shooting from the field, Vandy could not stop Falcon threes either. Guards Tracy Pontius and Tamika Nurse both hit 3 of 4 treys in the first half as the visitors finished 63.6% from beyond the arc. The ‘Dores went 3 for 17 on 3-point shooting for 17.6%.
"I didn't feel like we were ready to shoot," said Balcomb. "We had open shots at times but couldn't make them and we didn't set good screens."
Shooting 38.1% in field goal percentage for the game, Vanderbilt was well below their 47.4% average, which places them second in the SEC behind Arkansas.
The second half was a different story. The vocal crowd of nearly 4,000 rallied in support as the intensity level deepened. When junior point guard Jence Rhoads was called for a foul that tripped her up and another player, the boos rang long and loud. Steals, balls saved from out of bounds and fresh shot clocks from offensive rebounds were not enough.
Balcomb added, "We all of a sudden got a sense of urgency on defense and we forced 25 turnovers. We certainly didn't have a lot of those in the first half. I think we were lured into thinking that teams were just going to miss shots and that's what has been happening in our past games but tonight, Bowling Green wasn't going to miss shots."
After the brief Vanderbilt lead at 59-58, the Falcons' Tracy Pontius scored 6 of the next 8 points for the win. She led Bowling Green with 19 points.
Jence led Vandy scorers with 17 (13 in the second half), popping in 8 of 18 buckets and one 3-pointer. Lauren Lueders, replacing Jordan in the starting lineup, added 11 points, two 3s and 7 rebounds. Hannah Tuomi and Jessica Mooney both pitched in 9 points and Tiffany Clark hit 4 of 7 from the field for 8 points and 3 rebounds.
Vanderbilt next hosts Western Kentucky at home on Sunday, December 6 at 2 p.m. A post-game clinic will follow.
Jence Rhoads learns she was called for a foul after hitting the floor.
Elan Brown scrambles for a rebound.
Tiffany Clarke hits a jumper.
Merideth Marsh knocks in a free throw.
Lauren Lueders sinks a layup.
Jessica Mooney attempts a jumpshot.