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Nov. 28, 2007
Schulz's Postgame Column: Mooney Provides Spark
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All Access (FREE): Postgame with Mooney & Risper
Duke's Press Conference with McCallie and Waner
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Next: Dec. 1, vs. Saint Mary's in Berkeley, Calif. at 6 p.m. CT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt players spent all day
trying to lure fans to their game against Duke (No. 10 ESPN/
USA Today, No. 11 AP). They offered fans free pizza and
T-Shirts for arriving early.
The Commodores delivered with a stellar performance.
Jessica Mooney scored a career-high 16 points to lead Vanderbilt (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) to a 68-55 win over Duke on Wednesday night, handing the Blue Devils consecutive losses for the first time since 2000.
"Jessica creates havoc," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "She makes people go faster. She created offense off of her defense tonight, and created plays for her teammates. This is a huge win."
Mooney was 4-for-7 was from the field and added six rebounds for Vanderbilt (6-1), which packed Memorial Gym with a rowdy 6,022 fans, many wearing black and gold "BEAT DUKE" T-Shirts.
They got their wish.
"It shows that we can have composure," Mooney said. "We really didn't get rattled. They say young teams usually get scared, but we really stayed composed the whole game and really stayed together."
The Commodores ended the game on an 18-3 run that began with 3:35 left to topple Duke (5-2), which lost consecutive games for the first time in eight seasons. The Blue Devils lost to No. 2 Connecticut 74-48 on Sunday in the Paradise Jam championship in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Staring in frustration at the box score, first-year coach Joanne McCallie brushed off talk about Duke's losses.
"Well, we're in the present," McCallie said. "This is this year. It's this year. We're learning. Trying to get better as a team. I don't write all the historical stuff. We're in this year."
Christina Wirth had 15 points, and Lauren Lueders and Merideth Marsh each added nine points for Vanderbilt.
Jasmine Thomas led Duke with 12 points, and Chante Black chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who had a season-high 24 turnovers. Duke's previous high of 23 came against Denver.
Jennifer Risper made four consecutive free throws to give Vanderbilt a 57-52 lead with 3:35 left, and the Commodores kept their cushion with late free throws. Vanderbilt finished 22-for-30 shooting free throws.
Risper also put the Commodores ahead 44-43 with 12:42 left, taking the lead for the first time since the opening minutes. Both teams were in the free-throw bonus the final 10 minutes that kept the game tight.
"We were aggressive," Risper said. "We forced them to put us on the line, and we made it when it counted."
Abby Waner was sidelined with foul trouble and played sparingly in the second half, and Duke sputtered without its star point guard. Wanner finished with nine points.
"Everything was in my control," Waner said. "They were stupid fouls. I just need to be a smarter player for that. They did a great job hitting their free throws, and our turnovers played right into that. Things just fell apart."
Duke got off to another slow start.
The Blue Devils had five turnovers in their first five possessions against the Commodores, and fell behind 7-4 in the opening minutes. Duke has trailed in the first 10 minutes in five of its first seven games.
The early woes didn't last long.
The Blue Devils went on a 19-7 run capped by three consecutive layups by Black to go ahead 23-14. Vanderbilt slowly crept its way back, closing the gap to 33-30 at halftime with a spurt of 3-pointers.
"It's a great confidence builder," Balcomb said. "To get a big win against a top-ranked team on your home floor for a young team is encouraging. It's important for the program."