A long weekend for the pep band, the cheer team, and everybody associated with game day production at Vanderbilt began on Friday evening.
The women's basketball team started off the busy weekend with their season opener at 6 p.m. Men's basketball followed with their season opener at 9 p.m. Approximately 12 hours after the end of the men's 78-64 victory over Oregon, the football team will take the field in their final home game of the season.
Junior guard Gabby Smith was once again relegated to the role of cheerleader following a concussion suffered in practice late in the preseason. She is listed as day-to-day.
With Smith on the sideline, freshman guard Kady Schrann started the game. In the first half, however, she tweaked her ankle. After that, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb used her sparingly, but according to Coach Balcomb, she could have continued to play if necessary.
Freshman point guard Maggie Morrison scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers and recorded five assists to only two turnovers in 27 minutes of playing time.
Based on game film, Vanderbilt's coaching staff had expected A&M to play mostly man-to-man defense, but the Bulldogs played a lot of zone in the first half, allowing the Dores to shoot 7-for-10 from 3-point range, including two from sophomore guard Christina Foggie.
"Everybody else has been running and jumping us and pressing us and trying to make us go fast, and you could see, if you don't, and we get to play slow, we're pretty good shooters," Balcomb said after the game.
Elan Brown played both post and guard during the game, narrowly missing a double double with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
"Elan's been consistent all pre-season with a better focus, a better toughness and confidence than I've ever seen her have," said Balcomb after the game. "I think Elan is going to surprise a lot of people. I think she's a different player than she was the first two years here."
The game featured numerous combinations in the post positions. Senior Jordan Coleman pulled down seven rebounds in thirteen minutes of play.
Redshirt sophomore Stephanie Holzer started the game and finished with eight points, eight rebounds, two assists, and three blocked shots.
Foggie started off the game hitting from the outside, but as the Bulldogs were forced to play more man-to-man, she showed her ability to score off the dribble.
The availability of Morrison at the point to distribute the ball gives Balcomb the luxury of moving Jasmine Lister to the wing. "When you have two wings that can shoot the three and take people off the dribble, that really is a good look for us," she said.
Lister finished with 22 points, seven assists and no turnovers. "I was trying to take Jaz out, to keep her fresh because she sets the tone for us defensively and we can't have her resting on defense," said Balcomb. But the absence of Smith and Schrann meant that Lister ended up playing 36 minutes.
After missing the exhibition game and practice time due to concussion, junior post Tiffany Clarke scored 11 points and pulled down seven rebounds in only twelve minutes of playing time.
"What I really liked is Tiff coming in and giving us really good productivity in short spurts," said Balcomb. "She played hard, and then came out and then went back out and did it each time with a really good focus."
For the game, Lister shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 9-for-13 from the field. Her four three pointers led the Vanderbilt long range attack, and Foggie and Morrison each added two, and Schrann had one before she left the game. In all, the Dores shot 45% from 3-point range for the game.
Vanderbilt returns to action on Monday night, when they host Western Illinois. Game time is 7 p.m.