Vanderbilt improved to 10-0 on the season with a 99-84 victory over the UT-Martin Skyhawks Wednesday in the Elam Center in Martin, Tennessee. Jasmine Lister led all scorers with 30 points, followed by Christina Foggie with 20, Stephanie Holzer with 13, and Kady Schrann with 12. Jasmine Newsome led the Skyhawks with 28 points.
UT-Martin, located about 50 miles north of Jackson, Tennessee, possibly might be best-known as the alma mater of legendary basketball Pat Head Summitt. But Vanderbilt fans might know it as the heart of Vanderbilt star Ashley McElhiney's old stomping ground.
In March 1999 on this very court, "Ashley Mac" led her high school team, the Gleason Lady Bulldogs to victory on their way to the Class A State Championship.
From the excitement in the air to the cheerleaders in constant motion behind the baselines, the Wednesday night game between the Dores and the Skyhawks took on the feeling of a hgh school playoff game.
Jasmine Lister helped the Dores get out to an early lead, hitting two 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the game.
"Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister, our two best shooting guards, really got off early," said Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "They had wide open looks, and we were really executing our offense well. They were packing it in on our post players because of our size advantage, and it got our guards off early."
Even though most of the scoring came from the guards, Stephanie Holzer had seven of her 13 points in the first half.
In the first half, Lister and Foggie combined for nine 3-pointers on eleven attempts. Foggie finished the game with 20 points, the fifth consecutive game in which she has scored 20 points or more.
For the game, Lister shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. In addition to shooting the ball well, Lister and Foggie combined for 12 assists with only three turnovers.
With 2:29 to go in the first half, a basket by Tiffany Clarke gave the Dores a 21-point lead.
Through the first ten minutes of the second half, Vanderbilt maintained that comfortable lead. A 3-pointer by Maggie Morrison made the score 74-51 with 12:29 left in the game.
But then the tide turned. With ten minutes left and the Dores with a 25-point lead at 80-55, an 11-0 run by the Skyhawks sliced the lead down to 13 points. Feeling the momentum shift in their direction, Skyhawk fans began to smell an upset. The crowd had been enthusiastic through the game, despite the score, but when they saw that glimmer of hope begin to burn more brightly, they stepped on the accelerator and the gym began to rock.
For the rest of the game, it was tooth and nail. Every time it looked as if Vanderbilt might put the game totally and permanently out of reach, the Skyhawks refused to go away.
But in the end, the Dores fended off every charge. "I thought we did a great job holding our composure when they were making runs," Balcomb said. "We made some good defensive plays. Kady Schrann made a great play. Elan Brown hit a big shot. Jaz and Foggie continuing to attack. Tiff made a big hoop.
"I just really liked that every player was ready to play. I played everybody, and I think they were ready to come off the bench and make plays, and I felt like everybody made a big play down that stretch. It wasn’t just one player and we all weren’t standing around watching one player. It was a really good team effort when it got tight."
The Skyhawks' last gasp came with a couple of minutes left in the game when they had once again cut the lead to 11 points, but that's as close as they would get. Down the stretch, the Dores continued to hit shots and make their free throws to seal the victory.
"I think we gained a lot of confidence from this game," said Stephanie Holzer afterwards. "It was a great crowd. There was so much energy in the stands.
"It was a good game to prepare us off of our home court and in a different environment to see if we could still hold on to who we were and not let external factors shake us," she said, "and gain our energy and power from each other, and play for each other and not for the crowd."
After the game, the team loaded up the sleeper buses for the trip back to Nashville. Thursday is the last day of classes in the fall semester, and final exams begin on Saturday.
After the break for exams, games will resume with a road trip to North Carolina State on December 18. Next home game will be December 22 when Florida State visits Memorial Gym.
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Photos copyright 2011 by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com