March 18, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Vanderbilt women's basketball team overcame the heat and foul trouble to advance to the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The seventh-seeded Commodores defeated 10th-seeded Middle Tennessee, 60-46, on Sunday, March 18 at Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt improves to 23-9 while the Blue Raiders' season comes to an end at 26-7.
Vanderbilt will move on to play second-seeded Duke in the second round on Tuesday, March 20. Duke defeated Samford, 82-47, in the first round on Sunday at Memorial. Tipoff at Memorial Gym is set for 8:30 p.m. The winner will move on to the Fresno Regional Semifinals.
Vanderbilt overcame significant foul trouble by its posts thanks to strong defense and strong point play.
The Commodores were led by 19 points from Jasmine Lister. The sophomore point guard was 4-10 from the field, but hit 11 of 14 free throw attempts. She also had five assists and five rebounds. Junior guard Elan Brown added 12 points and nine rebounds. Redshirt sophomore center Stephanie Holzer also just missed a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Middle Tennessee was led by 12 points from Kortni Jones. Ebony Rowe recorded a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Icelyn Elie also grabbed 16 rebounds while adding seven points.
The story of the first half was foul trouble. With about four minutes remaining, Vanderbilt had been whistled for nine fouls while MTSU had been called for just one. This included three on Holzer and three on junior forward Tiffany Clarke, Vanderbilt's starting forwards.
Despite the foul trouble, Vanderbilt was able to take a 25-18 lead into the break thanks to holding the Blue Raiders to 22.6% (7-31) from the field. That was especially thanks to the play of Brown, junior guard Gabby Smith and senior guard Jordan Coleman.
The second half saw Holzer play 14 minutes, score seven points an grab five rebounds while committing just one more foul. Vanderbilt was able to pull away thanks largely to her and Lister, who scored 14 of her 19 points in the second half.
Vanderbilt's patience on the defensive end was demonstrated by the fact that the Blue Raiders pulled down 25 offensive rebounds but managed just four second-chance points. The Commodores scored 14 second-chance points on 16 offensive boards.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb was especially proud of the effort from Brown.
"Elan Brown was huge," Balcomb said. "(She and Lister) had big games, but Elan has played so well in practice every day. She is one of the smartest players that I have ever coached. Offensively and defensively, she just gets it now."
Lister knew Middle Tennessee would do its best to pressure her, but felt that SEC play prepared her for it.
"A lot through the SEC, they full-court pressured me, but today it wasn't as much. That was kind of a relief and it gave me time to settle down and get my teammates in the right spot to make a play."
The Commodores will be looking to advance to their 15th Sweet 16 and fifth under Melanie Balcomb.