March 21, 2010
Complete Recap: Vanderbilt 83, DePaul 76 (OT)
They didn't want this to be their last game.
So three seniors led the Commodore women's basketball team to an 83-76 victory in overtime today, when they faced off against the DePaul Blue Demons in the first round of NCAA play in Cincinnati.
Tuesday, they will get the chance to do it again against Xavier in the second round of the prestigious tournament of which Vanderbilt has been a part in each of the last 11 years.
Merideth Marsh, Jessica Mooney and Lauren Lueders, scrapped, strategized, scored high and intercepted like Sunday's contest was their last game ever. Between Mooney's air-bound interception during the first half and Marsh and Lueders' three pointers, their performances wowed the audience, inspired their younger players, and impressed their coach, Melanie Balcomb.
"I can usually tell by my player's eyes and their body language and I felt good about it. What I felt good about was I really had gone down the stretch with three seniors and two juniors, and I knew they were a lot younger and I knew that we had more wins in postseason. I felt like I had kids on the floor that knew how to win."
Mooney was praised by her teammates for her spirit and energy that helped carry the win. The guard who scored 14 points in the game, and fought viciously for possession of the ball said it plainly from the locker room.
"I took my normal approach to preparing for the game," Mooney said, "but I didn't want this to be my last collegiate game."
DePaul's head coach Doug Bruno credited the Dores' intelligent play for his team's loss, but Marsh, who had a game-high 26 points, said the win came from the heart.
"Overtime is about heart, that's all it is," Marsh said. "That's what I told myself and that's what we talked about in the huddle is whether or not we were going to dig deep enough and show how much heart we truly have."
Off-court, Marsh sports an orthopedic boot on her right leg protecting a stress reaction in her fibula.
On the court, she's bound by tape and additional foot support. But on Sunday she helped Vanderbilt improve 3-0 in overtime games this season, playing all 45 minutes for the third time. Running was not an issue, nor will it be on Tuesday when the Commodores take on Xavier (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
"I'm in pain," Marsh said, smiling. "But I'll be alright."
Photo by Timothy Sofranko