The final game of the regular season is one sign of spring. The flowering trees on the south side of Memorial Gym are another.
Inside the gym, the 'Dores wore purple t-shirts for Senior Night. In keeping with the tradition started several years ago, the seniors on the team select a cause to bring to the awareness of fans. This year Jordan Coleman, the team's lone senior, decided the focus should be on awareness of pancreatic cancer, in honor of her uncle's battle against the disease.
Wrist bands with the slogan of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network -- "Know It. Fight it. End it." -- were available in the lobby.
Head Coach Melanie Balcomb made some changes in the starting lineup for the game. Stephanie Holzer, Jasmine Lister, and Christina Foggie who have been regular starters remained in the starting lineup, with Elan Brown and Jordan Coleman the new additions.
"We wanted to start better so we changed the starting lineup based on who was the best defensively in practice in the last two days," said Coach Balcomb. "That's the five that did it yesterday in practice and did it very well so that's who I went with."
The strategy apparently worked because Vanderbilt began the game with an 11-1 run. Christina Foggie, who finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds, scored the first basket of the game.
Stephanie Holzer scored 12 points on while shooting 6 for 11 from the field with eight rebounds.
Jasmine Lister scored 16 points, including 5-for-5 from the free throw line, along with seven rebounds a team-high seven assists.
Jordan Coleman, in her final regular season game at Memorial Gym, had four rebounds, two assists and two points in 27 minutes of playing time.
Tiffany Clarke was hampered by foul trouble and ultimately foule out of the game but scored nine points, with seven of them coming from the free throw line on eight attempts.
A layup by Clair Watkins, assisted by Lister, gave the 'Dores a 19 point lead late in the first half. An Alabama basket in the final seconds cut Vanderbilt's halftime lead to 17 points at 39-22.
Foggie's 18 points exactly matched her SEC-leading scoring average. "When teams got to know her and took the 3 away, she was still able to score other ways," said Coach Balcomb. "You saw tonight her score on offensive rebounding; we've been on her about rebounding more and she had seven rebounds tonight.
"And I think that's great because she figured it out. She's smart, she's tough, and she's starting to figure it out, and that's exciting when you have a sophomore able to that."
Lister also scored in a variety of ways - from 3-point range, on drives to the basket, at the free throw line, and on pullup jumpers.
In the second half, Alabama never managed to cut the lead to single digits, but did trim the Vanderbilt lead to 11 points at 63-52 with a couple of minutes left in the game, but the 'Dores were able to close it up, ensuring that Senior Night would be a sweet sweet occasion instead of the bitter sweet celebration of the past two years.
In addition to recognition of the senior players on the team, Senior Night always recognizes the senior managers, too. The players on the team seemed to enjoy the chance to cheer for them.
Next, Jordan Coleman, the team's lone senior, was escorted onto the court by her parents.
The team joined her on the court to give her flowers and a card then posed for team photos.
Jordan took a few minutes to express her appreciation to her teammates, coaches, support staff and fans.
The "practice guys", the male students who practice with the team and a couple of their friends honored Jordan in their own special way.
With the victory, Vanderbilt ends the regular season with a record of 21-8 overall, and 9-7 in the SEC. Next action for the 'Dores is the SEC Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. Vanderbilti is the #7 seed and will meet Mississippi State in the opening round at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Photos copyright 2012 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com