Friday's first round action in the Thanksgiving Tournament set up the final round on Saturday. In the first round, Vanderbilt defeated Lipscomb 81-39, while Oklahoma defeated Liberty 76-45.
Saturday afternoon was another beautiful, breezy, late fall day in Nashville as the women's basketball team was preparing to take the court. Meanwhile, 450 miles to the east, Vanderbilt's football team was fighting for a bowl game in the final regular season game against Wake Forest.
Unfortunately for the media that cover Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt staff, the football game was being broadcast on ESPNU, which isn't available in the media room. Fortunately, however, the resourceful media room staff brought in a radio so they could follow the game through Joe Fisher's play-by-play.
Out on the court, Liberty was solidly thrashing Lipscomb to the tune of 70-27 when the final buzzer sounded. Vanderbilt fans doing a quick analysis of the scores of the first round games might have become a little more nervous about the prospect of taking on the Sooners.
Despite the lopsided game, afterwards, players from both teams joined together at center court for a post-game prayer circle.
Christina Foggie got the Dores off to a good start when she knocked down her first 3-pointer only seven seconds after tip-off.
"I thought it was it was important that Foggie or Jaz [Jasmine Lister] get off early and hit the three, because I knew we were going to have to get 3-point shots with them so big inside," said Coach Balcomb after the game. "We haven’t been that consistent at it, so when Foggie started lighting it up, it gave us a lot of momentum early that I think we needed, and it just carried on."
The bad news in the early going was that Stephanie Holzer picked up two quick fouls. Foul trouble limited Holzer's playing time to just eight minutes, but in that short time, she nonetheless scored eight points including 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
With Holzer on the bench, Tiffany Clark provided the primary force inside.
Although Foggie lit it up from 3-point range in the first half, that wasn't all she did. After a steal by Jasmine Lister, Foggie scored on the fastbreak.
"A lot of our offense comes from our defense, and we bring a lot of energy and intensity towards the defensive end, because that normally creates our transition," said Foggie afterwards. That’s where we get all of our energy, all of our confidence."
Elan Brown added six points in the first half, including 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Jasmine Lister hit one of her three 3-pointers in the first half when Brown and Clark helped to get her an open look.
Vanderbilt had led by 12 points midway through the first half, but Oklahoma worked their way back. The Sooners never managed take the lead after the first few minutes of the game, but in the final minutes of the first half, they cut the lead to just one point. Then Vanderbilt answered with a steal by Foggie and a fast break.
Oklahoma then tied the game at 37-37 with 37 seconds left in the half, but Lister put the Dores back on top at 39-37 going into the locker room.
Halftime entertainment featured the Memphis Grizzlies Dunk team. Several members of the men's basketball team were courtside observers of the high-flying stunts.
"I like to play two point guards on the floor if I can – so we’ve kind of pushed Maggie Morrison out there quickly as a freshman so that we can play Jaz at the 2 more," said Coach Balcomb.
"I love having two people that can handle the basketball like that, pass, shoot and dribble, and two players that can play on the wing and shoot the 3. That makes us hard to guard.
"I told Maggie to distribute the ball, run the offense – she thinks like a coach, she studies the game – and then knock down the open 3, and she’s been doing it."
A reverse layup on a fastbreak by Lister against the taller Oklahoma posts gave the Dores a 9-point lead at 55-46 with 12:16 left in the game.
"I came down the court and I knew she was going to go for a block if I pulled up for my jump shop, so I had her stand up, then went by her and went for the reverse," said Lister. "I just read her body."
"She makes that move at least once every game so we were confident when she went by," added Foggie.
Morrison had two 3-point opportunities and knocked down both of them.
Freshman guard Kady Schrann scored a couple of consecutive baskets late in the second half to smother any hopes that the Sooners might have had for a comeback.
After the victory, when the team lined up to sing the Alma Mater, some fans helped them out with the words, figuring that it's better for players to devote their memorization skills to Melanie Balcomb's complex playbook rather than to song lyrics.
Thanksgiving Tournament champs! Front row: Jasmine Lister and Christina Foggie. Back row: Maggie Morrison, Gabby Smith (still out with post-concussion symptoms), Tiffany Clarke, Jordan Coleman, Stephanie Holzer, Elan Brown, Clair Watkins, Kady Schrann, and Nadine Ndip. (Click the image to view a larger version.)
Lister was named tournament MVP, and Foggie joined her on the all-tournament team.
While the women's basketball team was busy upsetting the #13/#14 ranked Sooners, the football team was taking care of business at Wake Forest, securing bowl eligibility in Coach James Franklin's first season as head coach. Later in the evening, Vanderbilt fans initiated "Occupy McGugin" with the single demand of keeping Coach Franklin here long into the future.
All in all, it was a perfect ending to a great day for Vanderbilt athletics.
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Photos copyright 2011 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com