Feb. 28, 2010
BESSEMER, Ala. --- Strong team games in the eight seeding events faded to inconsistent Baker play when the chips were on the table and as a result, Vanderbilt finished a disappointing fourth at the Holiday Classic here Sunday.
"We dominated the field when it didn't count and made mental and physical errors when it did," said Coach John Williamson. "We get everybody's best effort when we play and until we fully understand that fact and what it takes to win under those circumstances, we are setting ourselves up to be disappointed."
The Commodores were the only unbeaten team in the field heading into the decisive Baker matches. As the top seed in their bracket, they faced a Maryland-Eastern Shore squad they had beaten the day before. This time things unfolded differently.
Vanderbilt lost the first two games by a combined total of 47 pins in a format where total pin fall after four Bakers determined the winner. The Black and Gold clawed its way back and had an outside chance of victory until the last frame.
That's when Maryland-Eastern Shore's outstanding anchor Maria Rodriguez stepped forward, needing a strike to win; a spare or less would give VU the victory. Rodriguez coolly struck out, giving the Hawks a 17-pin victory.
The Commodores were then pushed into the consolation bracket against host Alabama A & M, who used a 227-168 edge in the third game to earn the third place spot.
How dominating had it been up to crunch time for the `Dores?
Well, the five-woman all-tournament team decided by pin totals during qualifying team games included four Commodores. Brittany Garcia, who's 277 against Central Missouri is the fourth best ever by a Commodore, was second, Brittni Hamilton was third, Josie Earnest was fourth and Jessica Earnest fifth. Natalie Jimenez of Central Missouri won the event by 104 pins.
Team champion Nebraska's 10-game total pin fall was 930 pins less than Vanderbilt. The Huskers went 9-1 on the weekend, their lone loss coming at the hands of Vandy by 199 pins yesterday but they shined when it counted. UMES went 6-4 on the weekend and Alabama A & M was 7-3.
All of that was lost on Williamson.
"Give Nebraska, UMES and Alabama A & M all the credit in the world," he said. "They stepped up when it really mattered and made shots. They deserved to win and we didn't."
It'll be back to the drawing board this week for Vanderbilt before traveling to New Jersey for the ECAC Championship next weekend.
Vanderbilt's Sunday action
VU 1,027, Arkansas State 966
Jess Earnest 170
Brittany Garcia 211
Kim Carper 178
Brittni Hamilton 215
Josie Earnest 253
VU 1,005, Grambling 717
Jess Earnest 177
Kayla Rhoades 190
Josie Earnest 176
VU 1,104, Central Missouri 1,010
Jess Earnest 235
Josie Earnest 213
Semi-finals (total pin fall of four Baker games)
UMES 766 VU 759
All Tournament Team
Natalie Jimenez, Central Missouri 1,843
Brittany Garcia, Vanderbilt 1,739
Brittni Hamilton, Vanderbilt 1,688
Josie Earnest, Vanderbilt 1,665
Jessica Earnest, Vanderbilt 1,658