Vanderbilt 63, No. 21 LSU 61
Vanderbilt found a way to make up for the lowest scoring game in
the program’s history.
Merideth Marsh and Hannah Tuomi each scored 17 points and
Vanderbilt atoned for an embarrassing regular-season loss by
beating No. 21 LSU 63-61 in the Southeastern Conference tournament
on Friday night.
Marsh, who made 87 percent of her free-throw attempts in the
regular season, made only 1 of 5 in the final 2:12, including two
misses with 3.3 seconds remaining.
Allison Hightower’s last-second attempt from near midcourt
wasn’t close, ending LSU’s hopes of playing in its ninth straight
Vanderbilt (22-9) will face No. 4 Tennessee, the top seed, in
Saturday’s first semifinal.
Hightower led LSU (20-9) with 24 points. Katherine Graham added
The Tigers became the first Top 25 team to be eliminated from
the SEC tournament.
LSU held Vanderbilt to its lowest points total in school history
on Feb. 18 when it beat the Commodores 55-39 in Baton Rouge,
Vanderbilt made up for the loss with its fourth straight SEC
tournament win over LSU. The streak includes a win in the 2007 SEC
championship game at the Gwinnett Arena and a win in last year’s
semifinals in North Little Rock, Ark.
Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said “any kind of mental edge
at this time of the year” is important.
“I do I think it’s mental going into the game,” Balcomb said.
“They know that they’ve been beaten last year when we beat ’em in
the final, and recently we’ve beaten ’em, so I think they know
we’ve won a lot of games in these tournaments.
“We’re confident. Maybe they’re a little more hesitant. It can
never hurt you, put it that way.”
Vanderbilt’s players were motivated by their poor showing in
last month’s loss at LSU.
“Definitely. We talked about that before the game on the bus
ride here,” said Jence Rhoads, who had 8 points. “We didn’t want
to come out like we did in Baton Rouge. We weren’t proud of that
game at all. It was one of our worst games all year. We wanted to
get a little bit of revenge and show them what we were really made
LSU coach Van Chancellor said the Commodores showed “all the
heart and character in the world.
“They come out and get in this conference tournament, and they
just play their heart out,” Chancellor said.
In a game of big swings, a baseline jumper by Elan Brown gave
Vanderbilt a 60-59 lead with 3:13 remaining. Marsh’s free throw a
minute later pushed the lead to two points, and the senior guard
added a short jumper with 43 seconds remaining for a 63-59
Taylor Turnbow’s follow shot for LSU cut the lead to two points
with 20 seconds remaining.
The Commodores, the defending champions but only the fifth seed
in the tournament, overcame a sluggish start. Marsh hit a 3-pointer
to open the game and LSU scored the next 15 points.
Vanderbilt recovered with an 11-2 run to cut LSU’s lead to
17-14. Tuomi scored eight points in a 12-0 run later in the half
that gave the Commodores the lead.
The momentum shifts continued in the second half. Vanderbilt led
40-32 before LSU used a 15-2 run to lead 47-42.
LSU’s struggles to defend Tuomi inside became more difficult
when starting forward LaSondra Barrett fouled out with 5:05
remaining. Barrett, who averages 12.7 points and a team-leading 6.8
rebounds, left with nine points and three rebounds.