Vanderbilt broke away from Maryland Eastern Shore in the last five frames of the seventh and deciding game to win the NCAA Bowling Championship on Saturday in Apopka, Fla.
It marks the first team national championship in Vanderbilt history.
"Right now I can't put this championship into proper perspective," Coach John Williamson said. "To win the first national team championship in school history is special. Our student-athletes worked so hard, our coaches worked hard and this victory on national television is validation that the effort was worthwhile."
The Commodores, 74-14 on the year and the tournament's No. 3 seed, jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven format. They slid past UMES, which had been the Cinderella team of the tournament, in the first game 167-164 before posting a resounding 242-166 win in Game Two.
UMES came back to tie it with wins in the third and fourth games before Vanderbilt regrouped to win a convincing 224-180 battle in Game 5. The Hawks came back to take Game 6, setting up the pressure-packed seventh game.
"During the last television timeout in the seventh game, our kids said they wanted to finish their year by throwing five good balls. And they did -- we threw four solid strikes and had one nine-pin count to put it away," Williamson said.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Josie Earnest iced the game with two crucial strikes in the 10th frame.
"I knew that I had wanted to be in that moment the entire season," Earnest said, "and when I got there I focused on making good throws and then just hoped and prayed those pins would fall."
Sophomore Karen Grygiel said the team got a boost from Commodore baseball coach Tim Corbin before it left campus for the championships.
"Coach Corbin told us that we have to be able to visualize winning," Grygiel said, "and if you do, you can win. Winning was the only image on my mind this afternoon, I never allowed losing to come into my thoughts and I think we all felt that way."