Vanderbilt women fight back, come up short in overtime

Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 4:46pm

Vanderbilt’s disappointing first-half performance left head coach Melanie Balcomb wanting more. Lucky for her, the Commodores did enough in the second half to earn an extra five minutes.

Bonus time, however, couldn’t derail South Carolina as No. 25 Vanderbilt fell 65-60 in overtime on Sunday at Memorial Gymnasium.

The Commodores (14-5, 2-4 SEC) lost their first home game this season, snapping a 12-game win streak. They also lost three straight games for the first time since 2006.

“I think we need to continue to learn how to fight for two halves,” Balcomb said. “Obviously I am much more pleased with their fight in the second half. But it is not OK. It is not where we should be 19 games into the season. ... I do think we have a lot more to give and we will continue to get better. I think we saw that in the second half. I think we showed ourselves something.”

Down 51-42 with 5:59 remaining, Vanderbilt responded with a big run against a South Carolina defense that allows just 47.4 points a game — second-best in the nation.

Jasmine Lister and Tiffany Clarke scored the team’s next 10 points. With 1:14 left, Stephanie Holzer put back a miss to cut the deficit to two. After a Holzer blocked a shot on the other end she dished to Christina Foggie on a backdoor cut. Foggie was fouled with 24.8 seconds left and made both free throws to force overtime.

Foggie, who scored a team-high 16 points, again tied the game 41 seconds into overtime on a three-point play. Vanderbilt scored only one point the rest of the way as it missed its last five shots.

With 37 seconds remaining, the Commodores still had a chance to tie. They trailed 63-60 when Holzer fouled out when she was called for contact away from the ball that sent South Carolina’s Ieasia Walker flying. It was bad timing as Foggie's game-tying 3-pointer seconds later was waved off.

The Gamecocks (15-5, 4-3), who also made just one shot in overtime, hit two of their final four free throw attempts to ice the win.

“I am not one to agree with a lot of the refs’ calls all game but that call was the right call — absolutely,” Balcomb said of Holzer’s foul. “It was unnecessary. It didn’t need to happen. Foggie got an open look because of it so I don’t know if she would have got open without it. But Foggie doesn’t need a lot of room.

“But they are not going to call a foul in that situation unless it was very obvious. And it was very obvious. You didn’t see me yell, did you? And I yelled most of the game.”

South Carolina was whistled for just three fouls in the first half and Vanderbilt didn’t reach the free-throw line until the second half. The Commodores finished 17-of-20 from the line, while the Gamecocks made 17-of-24.

The foul discrepancy, however, wasn’t the difference in the first half. Vanderbilt jumped out to an eight-point lead with 8:02 left in the first half. The Commodores went quiet from there, scoring just two points the rest of the half.

South Carolina soared ahead with an 18-2 run, taking a 27-21 lead into halftime on a long 3-pointer at the buzzer by Sutton.

“I guess we got complacent. I don’t really have an answer for that,” Lister said. “We never should have settled for giving them open looks and we need to get our stops, even when we are up … . We played harder in the second half. I feel like we waited too long to play.”

Briefly

• South Carolina swept the season series, defeating Vanderbilt 65-55 on Jan. 5 in Columbia, S.C.

• Vanderbilt had won six straight overtime games, dating back to the 2008-09 season. This was the Commodores’ first overtime contest this season. Their last loss in overtime was on Nov. 14, 2007, at Indiana State.

• Lister scored 12 points and Holzer grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds in addition to seven points.

• Balcomb went away from her typical four-guard lineup, starting two post players (Holzer and Clarke) for just the second time this season. It paid off as Vanderbilt outscored South Carolina 32-20 in the paint. Holzer and Clarke both fouled out, with Clarke picking up her fifth foul with eight seconds left in the game.

• As a part of the SEC’s “We Back Pat” week, Vanderbilt and South Carolina players wore “We Back Pat” shooting shirts in recognition of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Both coaching staffs wore purple shirts with purple ribbons. Purple is the color used in support of Alzheimer’s awareness.