Caroline Williams (VM/Whitney D.)
NASHVILLE-- Led by another career night for Caroline Williams, Vanderbilt defeated the South Carolina Gamecoks 83-65 Sunday afternoon in Memorial Gym. Williams led all scorers with 26 points, including six 3-pointers. The team's other two seniors, Carla Thomas and Dee Davis, also scored in double figures with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Melanie Johnson led the Gamecocks with 14 points.
Once again the Dores jumped on their opponent early, establishing their first double digit lead of the game at 13-2 less then six minutes into the game. South Carolina briefly trimmed the lead back to single digits at 19-10 with ten minutes left in the first half. But soon afterwards, Williams' second 3-pointer of the night pushed the lead back to double digts, and Vanderbilt never looked back after that.
"We're really executing well early in the game and taking the other team's confidence away," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb after the game. "I think our players are very confident starting the game now, and have been very consistent with how we've started games."
"What we've been concentrating on is taking the best shot whether it is an open 3 or whether it's a lay-up," said Williams.
"We jump out with a good lead on teams because we're taking really good shots," she continued. " A couple of shots I had in the beginning were just because of good screens and working through the offense and getting good shots. It does give us a good lead, and then we get some confidence and they lose some confidence"
Following the pattern of past few games, after staking a big lead, the Dores were able to build on it throughout the first half. With nine minutes left in the half, Vanderbilt's lead had grown to 15 points at 25-10, and with two minutes left, it grew to 20 points on Williams' fifth 3-pointer of the first half.
In the second half, the lead continued to grow, reaching 30 points at 65-35 with 11:54 remaining in the game. Later on in the half, as Balcomb gave the younger players on the team ample playing time, the lead shrank below 20 points in the final minute. A pair of free throws by Lea Fabbri after time had expired ended the scoring for the game at 83-.65
After the game, South Carolina Susan Walvius, whose team lost to Vanderbilt by one-point in Columbia earlier in the season, talked about the problems that Vanderbilt poses for opposing teams.
"Their execution is the best I've seen in college women's basketball," she said. "They are the best executing team.
"They read better than most teams," she continued. "We can junk certain teams, meaning we can switch on screens and let our post players guard their guards and our guards guard their posts. Teams don't recognize and read that well.
"Vandy reads really well, so they exploit your defense, and they exploit how you are guarding them really well and they do that probably better than any team.
"Coach [Balcomb] talked about it before the game, and said that with her senior group and her three key players, they read so well as seniors that it just makes them really hard to guard.
As their season's gone on, you want your team to get better and better and better as the year goes on, they certainly have."
With the victory, Vanderbilt improves to 23-4 for the season (9-3 in the SEC) while South Carolina falls to 15-13 (5-8 in the SEC).
Next action for Vanderbilt is on Thursday night at 8 p.m. when the Dores host the LSU Lady Tigers for the last home game of the season. The later than usual starting time is to accommodate the broadcast on Fox Sports Net. After the game, the team's three seniors, Carla Thomas, Caroline Williams, and Dee Davis, will be honored in Senior Night festivities.
ARE YOU FULLY SUBSCRIBED TO VANDYMANIA.COM?
The exitement around Vanderbilt athletics has never been greater. The
Vanderbilt men's and women's basketball teams are poised to make runs in the
NCAA. Commodore football Spring pactice is right around the corner. VandyMania
will be there providing you with all the details as the Commodores gain national
attention. Subscribe now to a VandyMania Annual Total Access package and get 56
issues of award winning Sports Illustrated magazine included. Don't miss
out! sign up today and join the web's oldest Vanderbilt sports publication and
get the best national sports magazine included. Click HERE for