Photo Gallery & POV: Vandy - Tennessee

While Tennessee slipped past Vanderbilt 69-60 on Monday night, the final score did not tell the whole story. As fans from both sides know who watched ESPN and from their seats at Memorial Gym, Vandy, the little team that could, played with intensity and held their own against a much taller, more physical squad.

Execution faltered at key moments down the stretch, but the Commodores gained respect for the fight they brought to the table. Even the legendary Pat Summit, the queenmaker in women's basketball for multiple decades, took time out to praise the effort that kept her Lady Vols trailing for much of the game.

"Everytime we play here we have to bring our A game," Summit said. "They can beat you. They're so well coached. They have such great offensive execution. They're just tough players and hard-nosed. Melanie Balcomb runs probably the best offense in our league with all the different schemes that she has."

As usual when this interstate rivalry heats up, which is every time the two schools play, there is controversy. Uncalled fouls, too many fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct, grandstanding – pick a nitpick. But there is something both sides can agree upon – a Vandy-UT game is usually an exciting spectacle despite the lopsided number of wins by the team from the east. For Vanderbilt fans, hope rises with the start of every game, and seven times, the black and gold has come out on its rocky top, including last season's 74-58 win against a rare inexperienced Tennessee squad.

Which team in the country wants to play a perennial national contender twice and sometimes three times a year? Vanderbilt does. This program embraces the challenge and pushes themselves to get better. In a season peppered with injuries and freshmen learning complex plays and upperclassmen adjusting to unfamiliar roles, these student athletes strive to rise above - with class.

Hannah Tuomi grabs air to throw a pass over Alyssia Brewer.

Jence Rhoads hits a jumper over a block attempt.

Merideth Marsh plays keep away from Angie Bjorklund.

Lauren Lueders had the follow-through to sink four 3-pointers.

A timeout is cause for celebration in the first half.

Head Coach Melanie Balcomb is not happy with what she's seeing.

A trio of Vandy players caught in an orange crush under the goal.

While Tiffany Clarke watches, Jence Rhoads nails a layup.

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