Dores drop Mississippi State, 67-51
March 1, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vanderbilt women's basketball team advanced to the second round of the SEC Tournament, defeating Mississippi State, 67-51, at Bridgestone Arena. The Commodores improved to 22-8 and move to the second round where they will face second seeded Tennessee. The Lady Bulldogs' season comes to a close at 14-16.
Four Commodores scored in double-figures, led by SEC scoring champion Christina Foggie's 18 points. Center Stephanie Holzer added 12 points and 10 rebounds for her 10th career double-double. Tiffany Clarke scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Jasmine Lister scored 13 points.
Mississippi State was led by 14 points from Diamber Johnson, while Porsha Porter added 12 points. Martha Alwal contributed seven points and seven rebounds.
Vanderbilt led the enter contest, but Commodore turnovers kept Mississippi State in the game. The Lady Bulldogs scored 30 points off 22 Vanderbilt turnovers.
Free throws also helped Vanderbilt overcome the miscues, as they went 21-25 from the line. Holzer and Foggie were both 6-6 from the charity stripe.
The first half saw Vanderbilt come out swinging, as they led by as many as 14 and got 11 points from Foggie on 3-6 shooting and 4-4 from the free throw line.
Defense was the other key for Vanderbilt, according to Head Coach Melanie Balcomb.
"I thought we did a good job on defense and that was our goal tonight, to play defense and rebound," Balcomb said.
Balcomb was especially pleased when Mississippi State made a run to cut it to three points a couple of times with about 10 minutes to play, but the Commodores fought back.
After the Lady Bulldogs cut it to 42-39 with 10:01 remaining, the Commodores held Mississippi State to 11 points over the final 10 minutes, including a Diamber Johnson three with just two seconds remaining. Vanderbilt scored 25 points during the final 10 minutes.
"They were telling each other (what they needed to do)," Balcomb explained. "It started with Steph (Holzer) and Jas(mine Lister) and Foggie. They talked about their body language and what they needed to change. They all accepted it and changed it. That's when I knew we could make a run back."
She also knows this time of year, leadership is even more pivotal.
"They're leading each other right now," Balcomb said. "We have really good leadership and in March they better be able to lead because I can't play."
The win marked the 400th career win for Balcomb, who has posted a record of 400-196 (.671) during stints at Ashland, Xavier and Vanderbilt.
When asked what that meant to her, she quipped, "That I'm old."
With the retirement of Mississippi State Head Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis, who coached her final game after 17 years at MSU and eight seasons at Kentucky, Balcomb becomes the third-longest tenured coach in the SEC. Only Tennessee's Pat Summitt (37 years) and Georgia's Andy Landers (33 seasons) have been in the conference longer.
Next up for the Commodores is a rubber match with No. 13/10 Tennessee in the second round. They will look to become the first Vanderbilt team in program history to defeat the Lady Vols twice in one season.
Tipoff at Bridgestone Arena is set for 2:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on FSN (SportSouth, FS Southwest and Sun Sports), as well as on ESPN3.com in non-SEC states.
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