March 17, 2012
Vanderbilt Press Conference
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The seventh seeded Vanderbilt women's basketball team (22-9) opens up its 25th NCAA Tournament when it plays host to 10th-seeded Middle Tennessee State (26-6) on Sunday, March 18, at Memorial Gym. Tipoff is set for 4:10 p.m.
Tickets are still available. Click here for ticket info. If you can't make it to Memorial, the game can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. It is also available on the radio dial at WNSR 560 AM as well as free on VUCommodores.com.
The game will be followed by second-seeded Duke against 15th-seeded Samford. That game will tip 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Vandy-MTSU game and can also be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. The winners return to Memorial for second round action on Tuesday, March 20, at 8:30 p.m.
For Vanderbilt, it will be a unique opportunity to play NCAA Tournament games on their own floor. Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, who has now coached all 10 of her Commodore squads to the Tournament, can't wait to take the floor at Memorial.
"We're excited to be home and we're excited to be hosting in Nashville," Balcomb said. "This is a great situation for Vanderbilt to show themselves as a university and a program."
Redshirt center Stephanie Holzer echoed that sentiment.
"I think we're really comfortable at home," Holzer said. "These are our nets and we shoot on them every single day."
Sophomore point guard Jasmine Lister agreed, but added that the excitement of playing in the NCAA Tournament is still there.
"I think we get that home advantage, but at the same time there are NCAA decals on the floor and everything is set up, so we still get those chills walking in the gym."
It will be the first meeting for Vanderbilt and MTSU, whose campuses are separated by just 37 miles, since January 30, 1992.
Balcomb knows that the Blue Raiders can be dangerous.
"They have a very balanced team with three scorers," she said. "They have a point guard that distributes the ball and they have an offense that is very disciplined and they're very patient to get the ball to the people who they want to shoot it."
The Commodores are led by First Team All-SEC selection Christina Foggie. The sophomore guard enters the game averaging 17.8 points per game and this season became Vanderbilt's first SEC scoring champion since 1991.
Also making major contributions for Vanderbilt are Lister (12.2 points and 5.2 assists per game), Holzer (11.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game) and junior forward Tiffany Clarke (11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds per game). Those three all received All-SEC honors this season.
MTSU's leading scorer is Kortni Jones, who posted 17.0 points per game this year while making 113 three-pointers, a Sun Belt Conference record. Ebony Rowe joined her as a First Team All-Sun Belt selection after averaging 16.5 points and 9.9 rebounds. Icelyn Elie also contributes 13.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.