Scouting The Commodores
The Vanderbilt women's basketball team (20-11) will head to its 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament as an eight seed in the Bridgeport Region. The Commodores are led by a pair of All-SEC selections in Tiffany Clarke and Jasmine Lister. Clarke earned First Team honors and is averaging 16.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 52.4% from the field. All three of those totals ranked in the top-four in the SEC. Lister is averaging 12.5 points and 5.3 assists per game on the year, marks that rank 17th and fourth in the league, respectively. The Second Team All-SEC selection did that while leading the conference in minutes at 36.4 per game. Joining Clarke and Lister in the starting lineup for all 31 games on the season has been Elan Brown. The senior has averaged 6.2 points and 5.5 rebounds on the year. At the SEC Tournament, a pair of freshmen rounded out the starting lineup. SEC All-Freshman selection Heather Bowe has averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while starting 13 contests during her rookie year. Morgan Batey made her first career starts at the SEC Tournament and is averaging 2.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Over the final eight games Vanderbilt has played, the guard is averaging 4.8 points and 7.0 rebounds. The Commodores' other big threat is Christina Foggie, who has started 20 games on the year but injured her knee on February 10. After missing the next four games, Foggie has come off the bench during the last four contests. On the year, the SEC's scoring leader in 2012 is averaging 14.1 points and shooting 34.1% from three-point range. Also off the bench for Melanie Balcomb's squad, look for freshman forward Kendall Shaw (3.0 ppg/2.0 rpg), freshman guard Jasmine Jenkins (2.3 ppg/2.5 rpg) and senior guard Gabby Smith (1.7 ppg/1.1 rpg).
Scouting The Hawks
Saint Joseph's (23-8) enters its first NCAA Tournament since 2000 as the nine seed in the Bridgeport Region. The Hawks earned their bid by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament with wins over Duquesne, No. 18/15 Dayton and Fordham. Saint Joe's has had a relatively steady starting five under Head Coach Cindy Griffin, led by 14.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game from Chatilla van Grinsven, a transfer from Colorado State. Junior guard Erin Shields is also in double-figures, posting 11.6 points per game as the team's leading three-point threat (37.5%). Redshirt sophomore guard Natasha Cloud is not far behind at 9.1 points and a team-best 4.4 assists per game. Ashley Prim and Ilze Gotfrida have rounded out the starting five most the year, averaging 7.7 and 7.5 points per game, respectively. As a team, the Hawks ranked in the A-10's three best teams in scoring (64.5), defense (55.1), free throw percentage (.732), field goal percentage (.408), field goal defense (.354), three-point percentage (.332), assists (15.4), turnover margin (+1.9) and assist/turnover ratio (1.1).
The Series - Vanderbilt vs. Saint Joseph's
Vanderbilt and St. Joseph's have met twice, including a meeting in the postseason. They met in the 1989 NCAA Tournament, with the Hawks taking an 82-68 first round decision in Philadelphia. Vanderbilt returned to the City of Brotherly Love in 2009 and took a 59-46 decision. Elan Brown, Tiffany Clarke and Gabby Smith all played in the game, scoring two points each.
Following The Game
The Vanderbilt-Saint Joseph's game will tipoff the 2013 NCAA Tournament, starting at 10:05 a.m. CT. The contest can be seen on ESPN2, as part of the network's "whiparound" coverage of the entire NCAA Tournament. The game can be seen in its entirety on ESPN3.com. Dave O'Brien and Doris Burke will have the call. On the radio, the game can be heard in Nashville on WNSR 560 AM and around the world as part of Vanderbilt All-Access on VUCommodores.com. Veteran announcer Charlie Mattos is the voice of Vanderbilt Women's Basketball.
On Deck - NCAA Tournament Second Round
The winner of the contest between Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph's will move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament to face the winner of the other first round match-up in Storrs between top-seeded host Connecticut and 16 seed Idaho. The second round match-up at Gampel Pavilion will be held on Monday, March 25, with the time to be announced.
Balcomb's Winning Ways On West End
Vanderbilt women's basketball, one of the top-20 winningest programs of all time, has maintained that success in 2012-13. Under 11th-year Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, the Commodores won 20-plus games for the 27th time and received their 26th NCAA Tournament bid, going 20-11 and earning an at-large bid and an eight seed in the Bridgeport Region. During Balcomb's 11 seasons at the helm on West End, Vanderbilt has won 20 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year. In nine of the 10 appearances, Vanderbilt has won at least its first round game under Balcomb.
The Tournament Standard
The 2012-13 season saw Vanderbilt make the NCAA Tournament for the 26th time and 14th-in-a-row. The Commodores have posted a 38-25 (.603) mark in the tournament and won at least one game in each tournament during 12 of the last 13 appearances. Vanderbilt has made 14 appearances in the Sweet 16, including six in the last 13 seasons. The Commodores have one Final Four appearance (1993).
Eight Is Enough
Vanderbilt is one of eight programs to have made the last 14 NCAA Tournaments (since 2000). The Commodores are joined by Connecticut, Duke, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford and Tennessee as the only programs to have earned bids each of the last 14 seasons. Of those eight schools, only five have made the those 14 Tournaments under the same coach - Connecticut under Geno Auriemma, Georgia under Andy Landers, Oklahoma under Sheri Coale, Stanford under Tara VanDerveer and Vanderbilt under Melanie Balcomb.
Vanderbilt's Tournament Tradition
Vanderbilt made its 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 13th-consecutive. All-time, Vanderbilt is 38-25 in NCAA play, following a first round win over Middle Tennessee and a second round loss to Duke last season. It marked the 11th time in 12 seasons the Commodores won at least one game in the Tournament. Vanderbilt has made 14 Sweet 16 appearances, including six over the last 11 seasons (last in 2009). The last Elite Eight trip came in 2002, while Vanderbilt's lone Final Four appearance was in 1993. In first and second round contests, Vanderbilt is 32-11, while it is 16-2 in opening round games since the NCAA expanded the field to 64 teams in 1994.
Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph's have several connections. Two Commodores, Christina Foggie (Mount Laurel, N.J.) and Stephanie Holzer (Newtown Square, Pa.), are from the Philadelphia Area where St. Joe's is located. Holzer attended Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, Pa., as did Saint Joseph's Natasha Cloud. The connections extend to the bench, as Saint Joseph's Head Coach Cindy Griffin (then Cindy Anderson) was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt under Jim Foster from 1994-96. She helped the Commodores go 51-15 in two years, winning the SEC Tournament and reaching the Sweet 16 in 1995 before falling one win shy of the Final Four in 1996.