After the 11-day layoff for exams, the Vanderbilt women's basketball traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, for a Sunday afternoon game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
Reynolds Coliseum was the home of North Carolina State's two national championship teams in men's basketball, the 1974 team coached by Norm Sloan and the 1983 team coached by Jim Valvano.
In 1990 the men's games moved to the larger RBC Arena off-campus, and Reynolds Coliseum is now the home of the women's basketball team and the women's volleyball team.
The game ended in a loss for the Dores, but before the ball was even tipped, there was bad news for Vanderbilt. Freshman point guard Maggie Morrison suffered what appears to be a season-ending injury in practice on Saturday, leaving the team without a backup point guard.
"It doesn't give you a lot of prep time when it happens the day before a game," said Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "We ran a lot of the same offenses where we could all be interchangeable and not worry so much if we did need to take [Jasmine Lister] out, but we ended up just playing Jaz for 40 minutes." How are they going to handle the situation going forward? "We're going to have to figure it out," she said.
Vanderbilt's other freshman guard, Kady Schrann, played 34 minutes, scoring eight points with a steal, a blocked shot, and three assists with only one turnover.
The game started out in a familiar pattern with Jasmine Lister hitting a 3-pointer to help the Dores to an early 10-5 lead. But soon, the Wolfpack took over the lead and, as it turned out, never relinquished it again.
Stephanie Holzer ended up with 15 points and eight rebounds, but in the first half, she only had two points and two rebounds.
State took a 10-point lead with 6:51 left in the first half. Vanderbilt was able to cut into it briefly, but by halftime, the Wolfpack lead had grown to 12 points at 34-22.
With Vanderbilt short on guards because of injury and foul trouble, Elan Brown split her time between the post and guard positions. She hit a couple of 3-pointers in the game and finished the game with five assists and no turnovers.
After scoring only two points in the first half, Holzer scored 13 in the second half.
"[She] was frustrated in the first half not getting touches and so were we," said Coach Balcomb. "I will give all the credit to NC State pressuring our guards but it wasn't just our guards, our small forward was not getting her the ball either. So we talked about it at halftime, about playing together better. "
"The tough thing with Steph is she hasn't been consistent this year," Coach Balcomb said. "Tonight, she was ready to go and wanted the basketball. I think if she becomes consistent like she was tonight, it will be easier to get her the basketball because we'll have trust and we'll be able to get it to her. This game was very important for her and gave her a lot of confidence. She played very well tonight in key situations."
Early in the second half a basket by Holzer cut the State lead back to six points, but the Wolfpack was able to respond, and with 9:01 left in the game held their biggest lead of the game at 55-41.
But Vanderbilt once again began to get cut into the Wolfpack lead, and a game that had been very physical from the beginning began to get chippier as the crowd got louder. A flagrant foul by Kody Burke sent Holzer to the line for a pair of free throws.
A layup by Lister cut the lead to eight points at 58-50 with 5:40 left in the game.
Christina Foggie was whistled for her fourth foul with ten minutes had to go to the bench. With five minutes left, she returned and was a key part of the Dores' late rally. After hitting a 3-pointer, she helped Elan Brown get a steal that set up another 3-pointer.
The second of those 3-pointers cut the State lead to just three points at 62-59 with less than a minute to play.
"We had fouls to give so we wanted to give a foul," said Coach Balcomb, "and then we ended up sending them to the free throw line -- which I did not think was a bad thing, since their free throw shooter was a poor shooter, 48% from the free throw line, and she went out and made them both."
Those final free throws were the dagger in the Commodores' heart as they sealed the victory for the Wolfpack.
With the loss, Vanderbilt falls to 10-1 for the season, while NC State improves to 7-3 and remains undefeated at home. Next action for Vanderbilt is a home game on December 22, when they host the Florida State Seminoles. Game time is 7 p.m.
Photos copyright 2011 by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com