Unlike the game against Florida on Thursday night when Vanderbilt jumped out to an early lead, in the early going Georgia held the upper hand, leading by nine points at 16-7 after seven minutes.
But then the Dores started to get some defensive stops and make some shots to climb out of the early hole and finally take the lead at 28-26 on a pair of made free throws by Jen Risper with 2:22 left in the half. The Vanderbilt run continued until the end of the half as the Dores took a 34-29 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, Vanderbilt stretched the lead out to seven points at 45-38 with 12:29 left in the game, but Georgia quickly came back to tie the game at 47-47. At the ten minute mark, Vanderbilt held a razor-slim lead at 51-50.
Then freshman Tia Gibbs provided the proverbial "spark off the bench." After Tina Wirth hit a 3-pointer to give Vanderbilt a little breathing room at 54-30, Gibbs grabbed a defensive rebound, then hit a 3-pointer on an assist from Risper. On Vanderbilt's next possession, she scored on a driving layup to give the Dores a 9-point lead at 59-50. On the next possession, she dished to Merideth Marsh, who scored and finished an old-fashioned 3-point play. Then on Georgia's next possession, a steal by Gibbs led to another two points on a pair of free throws by Merideth Marsh.
When the dust settled, Vanderbilt held a 14-point lead at 64-50 with 7:21 left in the game. After that, Georgia briefly cut the lead to single digits once at 66-57 with 4:10 left in the game, but a pair of free throws by Jence Rhoads, another 3-pointer from Gibbs, and a fastbreak layup by Gibbs put the game out of reach for the Lady Dawgs. A pair of free throws by Jessica Mooney made the final score 80-64.
The victory puts Vanderbilt alone in second place in the SEC at 9-2 because Florida lost at LSU on Sunday afternoon. Auburn remains in first place with a 10-1 conference record, setting up a showdown for Thursday night when the Tigers visit Memorial Gym for Vanderbilt's final home game of the season.
Thursday night will be Senior Night. Seniors Tina Wirth, Jen Risper, and Amy Malo will be honored after the game in the traditional Senior Night festivities. Thursday night is also Lyme Disease Awareness night. Fans are asked to wear lime green to show their support for sophomore post Rebecca Silinksi, who is currently being treated, along with several other members of her family, for late Lyme Disease.
The starters tossed pink t-shirts to fans.
Georgia Coach Andy Landers
Jen Risper shot 6-6 from the free throw line.
Jence Rhoads' grandmother, a breast cancer survivor, traveled to the game from Pennsylvania with her five daughters, including Jence's mom. (Click photo to view a larger image.)
Photos copyright 2009 by WhitneyD for VandyMania.com.