TRENTON, N.J. — Vanderbilt’s Saturday pin production resembled February’s New York Stock Exchange graph, falling from near record highs into bowling recession territory while the Commodores won 3 of 5 matches at the Hawk Flight Invite.
The fourth-ranked Commodores are in third place heading into one more team game Sunday followed by a two-round Baker bracket. Vandy’s Saturday business included wins over Wilmington, Fairleigh Dickinson and Mercyhurst along with a pair of losses to tournament-leading Duquesne and unranked Caldwell.
Tenth-ranked Duquesne maintained its wide lead on the field of 12 with Sam Houston State second and Fairleigh Dickinson fourth.
“Our nemesis all season has been in taking two steps forward and then a step back,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said afterwards. “We are unpredictable from round to round, sometimes seemingly related to our interest level in the match.
“Our execution was dramatically subpar in the last two matches.”
Emphasizing the positives, Vanderbilt has bowled in the neighborhood of 900 traditional team games since the start of its program in 2004 and Saturday’s 1,221 pin count against FDU was the second-best game ever. Great first shots were a key – only four shots the entire match were less than nine pins.
Adel Wahner got it moving with a powerful 268, Mabel Cummins followed with a 248 and Angelique Dalesandro added a near identical 245. Samantha Gainor contributed a 217 and Maria Bulanova finished with a 243, scorching the Hamilton Lanes in the day’s third match.
The only better team game in school history came during the 2016 New Jersey Jamboree when Vandy crushed Saint Peters with a 1,236 pin count.
That win came after the Commodores had begun their day with an impressive 1,114-921 win over 24th-ranked Wilmington. Gainor, a junior All-American, led the way with a sizzling 268 – a score made interesting when she tossed her first attempt into the gutter and then proceeded to nail nine strikes in a row.
Sandwiched in-between Wilmington and FDU was a loss to Duquesne, who Friday threw a 1,331 game and Saturday beat the Commodores 1,135-1,045 in a well-played match. Cummins, who had a splendid overall day averaging 229, did her best to keep pace with the torrid Dukes, rolling eight strikes in a row for a 264 but the lineup was too inconsistent to mount a serious challenge.
An overview of the first three games – Vandy averaged an impressive 1,126. However, that bull market was followed by a bear market as the Dores plummeted to just a 937 average in losses to Caldwell and a lackluster win against Mercyhurst.
In most tournaments, a 970 score (which Vanderbilt had against Mercyhurst) would keep pace with the leaders. But on these use-friendly lanes, it got trampled and the Commodores slipped into third place.
Vandy starts Sunday with a team game against New Jersey City to end the round-robin play. The two-match, best of seven bracket will feature the 1 seed versus the 4 seed with the 2-3 seeds paired up. Play is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. CT and is streamed live on the VandyBowling YouTube site.