ARLINGTON, TX– A slump in its last game cost Vanderbilt its grip on the team lead at the Prairie View Invitational and as a result, the Commodores hold down second place heading into Sunday’s final play.
All teams play one final team game Sunday morning to determine the seeds for the 12-team championship bracket but as Saturday’s five games concluded, Nebraska has the lead followed by Vanderbilt, Stephen F. Austin and McKendree.
The Commodores had maintained their excellent play through four games Saturday, knocking off three top teams in No. 9 Louisiana Tech, No. 1 McKendree and No. 5 Stephen F. Austin and losing only to a hot-shooting Mount St. Mary’s in a high-scoring affair, 1,061-1,048.
Left on the agenda was a match with Fairleigh Dickinson, a long-time rival that entered this match with a 2-7 tourney mark and some 1,300 pins behind Vandy on the leaderboard. All that was for naught as the Knights bowled their best game of the weekend while Vandy struggled with its lowest total, a 994-907 final tally.
“We weren’t as clean today as yesterday,” head coach John Williamson said. “We missed more spares than we’d like but we struck a decent amount of time to keep our scores up. We just weren’t executing quite as well and we ended the day on a pair of lanes that were kinda screwy.”
The Commodores have enjoyed excellent scoring balance of late but things were spotty Saturday. Alyssa Ballard’s tremendous 262 in the opening win over Louisiana Tech masked a handful of sub-200 scores and Caroline Thesier’s 245 made the big difference in a 35-pin win over McKendree.
Mabel Cummins, who averaged over 230 in Friday’s baker games, had just two games over 200 and Paige Peters, who shined Friday, crossed the 200 threshold only once. Welcome to NCAA bowling, where there are no sure things day-to-day and sometimes, lane to lane.
Ballard had spent most of the day among the top three or four individuals but her 180 in the final dropped her into sixth among bowlers that played all five matches. Thesier likewise had knocked on the all-tournament door but her closing 174 dropped her into 14th in tightly bunched standings where 10 pins could result in five or six spots on the leaderboard.
To illustrate the intense competitiveness of this tournament, Nebraska’s leading pin fall still could only produce a won-loss mark of 6-4. Vanderbilt has won seven of its 10 matches so far and only one team has as much as an 8-2 mark.
The field will complete the round-robin play first thing Sunday; Vandy will face North Carolina A&T. The best of seven bracket will then be seeded and the teams will play just two rounds of baker to determine the final team standings instead of the customary three.
Play is livestreamed on bowltv.com and begins at 8:30 a.m. CT.