Feb. 18, 2012
TOWSON, Md. -- Vanderbilt finished second in over-all pin count after two days of competition at the Morgan State Invitational and as a result, will gun for its fourth tournament championship of the year Sunday. The Commodores went 4-1 on the day and are 9-1 overall for the weekend.
Joining the Commodores in the title bracket are Fairleigh Dickinson, which led all teams, Nebraska and Central Missouri. Vandy faces Nebraska, the same scenario as two weeks ago in Texas, while FDU meets Central with the winners going for the gold.
"It looked to me as though we peaked too soon today," said Coach John Williamson, noting the quick start against Sacred Heart and the feeble finish against Maryland-Eastern Shore. "After that good first game we once again churned along with no real ups or downs. We came alive in the last four frames against Norfolk (the fourth game of the day) and I thought that strong finish would give us momentum into the UMES game but it obviously didn't."
The morning got off to a torrid start as the Commodores squared off against second-rated Sacred Heart. Led by Kim Carper's 255 and first-class support from Brittni Hamilton (246) and Samantha Hesley (234), Vanderbilt crafted one of its best team scores of the year, beating the Pioneers by 176 pins.
In the second match, it was Vanderbilt's "Big Three" creating the thunder necessary to defeat Kutztown. Jessica Earnest (237), Hesley (222) and Hamilton (217) - all with experience on Junior Team USA and/or Team USA - pushed the Black and Gold's total over the magic 1,000 mark.
Game three came against an out-matched Coppin State unit. Rebeca Reguero, who earned praise for her performance in Friday's Baker games, was inserted for Natalie Goodman and the Arizona freshman responded with a solid 213 to lead what appeared to be a team on cruise control.
The day's fourth match with a good Norfolk State team was tighter than the final score might indicate. The Commodores and the Rams were neck and neck much of the game with Vandy clinging to a mere one pin lead going into the ninth. That was when the quintet kicked things into overdrive, striking out in the frame while the Rams suffered two opens. Hamilton had a most helpful seven strikes in a row and Earnest chipped in with 224 to offset a subpar game by Hesley.
The afternoon concluded in sputtering fashion against Maryland-Eastern Shore, which was attempting to come from back in the pack to reach the championship bracket. Courtney Morgan was substituted after a few frames in the two spot and a frame later Goodman was inserted back into the three position. By this time, however, Vandy had dug itself into a hole and couldn't regain its tempo. The anemic 869 score was by far its weakest performance of the day.
Sunday's competition starts at 7:30 a.m. (CT) at the AMF Towson Lanes with two best-of-seven Bakers to determine the final team places.
Fairleigh Dickinson 9,362
Central Missouri 8,816
VU 1,131 Sacred Heart 955
VU 1,003 Kutztown 934
VU 942 Coppin State 675
VU 1,059 Norfolk State 958
UMES 1,018 VU 869