Vanderbilt Defeats Samford 67-50 11-28-03
Vanderbilt made it 25 straight wins in its own home tournament and moved to 3-0 overall this season after defeating Samford 67-50 in the opening game of the Vanderbilt Tournament, Saturday, Nov. 28.
Senior Jenni Benningfield tallied 18 points and freshman Dee Davis had 14 tallies to help the Black and Gold advance to Saturday’s championship game against the winner of the Louisville/Princeton contest. Game time is set for 3 p.m. The Commodores will be looking to gain their second straight tournament crown to open the 2003-04 season. Last weekend, VU triumphed at the Banknorth Classic in Burlington, Vt., with season-opening wins over South Alabama and Vermont.
Samford’s Lindsey Harris opened the scoring with five quick points to put SU up 5-2, before a three-point play by Ashley Earley and seven points from Benningfield gave Vanderbilt a 10-5 advantage. The Black and Gold run continued as a banked-in three-pointer by freshman point guard Davis, buckets by Hillary Hager and Davis and a single free throw by freshman Katie Antony completed a 16-3 run to give VU an 18-8 lead.
The ‘Dores advantage continued to grow after a single Samford three-pointer, as a bucket by freshman Carla Thomas and five points from rookie Cherish Stringfield allowed the Commodores to open a 27-11 with 7:57 remaining on the first half clock. A deuce by Benningfield gave VU a 30-13 lead, marking the end of a 28-8 run, during which the ‘Dores held the visitors to just two field goals over 11:46 and continued this season’s trend of solid shooting by hitting at a .545 clip. However the Bulldogs wouldn’t go away as a late 7-0 Samford run sent the teams to the halftime break with Vanderbilt holding on to a 12-point advantage.
A tone-setting three-pointer by the All-America candidate Benningfield out of the locker room pushed VU out to a 37-22 advantage and a driving lay-up from Stringfield extended the Commodore lead even higher to 45-26 with approximately 15 minutes remaining in the contest. Two quick buckets by Samford, including one by Tennessee native Cora Beth Smith, allowed the Bulldogs to claw back within striking distance down by just a dozen. But two baskets by Earley and another Stringfield jumper boosted Vanderbilt to an 18-point lead with 11:34 remaining. The advantage grew to as many as 25 points at 60-35, following a bucket by freshman Jenn Hall, and reached to as many as 27 points in the second half as the Black and Gold controlled the action down the stretch.
Louisville Defeats Princeton 68-61
The Louisville Cardinals, under head coach Tom Collen, advanced to Saturday afternoon’s Vanderbilt Tournament title game with a hard-fought 68-61 victory over the Princeton Tigers. U of L (2-2) will face off against the home-standing Vanderbilt Commodores (3-0) at 3pm, while Princeton will play Samford in the consolation round at 1pm.
The Cardinals were led in scoring by Sara Nord with a game-high 25 points, 18 of which came in the first half, and had two players reach double-figures as the team shot 38.8% for the afternoon.
U of L took control of the game from the opening tip and raced out to a 27-9 advantage with 7:33 to play in the opening frame. The Cardinals took a 34-17 lead into the locker room.
Princeton, with three players in double-figures, mounted a brief rally to open the second stanza getting as close as 36-24. The Tigers continued to chip away in closing the gap to 56-49 with approximately 5:30 remaining and 62-56 with 2:41 showing on the clock. With less than a minute to go the game closed to three-points at 62-59 on a Tiger three-pointer before Louisville answered with a clutch bucket and connected on four straight free throws to post the tough victory.
Louisville’s NCAA-record streak for making at least one three-pointer in a game remained intact as the Cardinals connected seven times from beyond the arc to run its mark to 355 straight contests.