Vanderbilt Women Open 2003-04 Regular Season With Overtime Win 11-21-03
Friday night at the Banknorth Classic in Burlington, Vt., the Vanderbilt Commodores opened their 2003-04 season on a successful note, but were forced to work overtime to get a victory as VU senior Hillary Hager hit a jumper with six seconds remaining in overtime to seal the Black and Gold’s win over the South Alabama Lady Jaguars.
On the evening, junior Ashley Earley paced the VU attack with career-highs for scoring and rebounding with 17 points and 18 boards and even tallied a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of action. Overall, four Vanderbilt players reached double-figure scoring as senior Hillary Hager tallied 15 points, senior Jenni Benningfield rang up a dozen and freshman Katie Antony, in her first regular season action for the Commodores, totaled 11 points, five rebounds and four steals.
The matchup was tightly contested throughout with 14 ties and 22 lead changes and even saw South Alabama head into the halftime locker room with a 27-26 advantage. Vanderbilt found itself trailing by as many as five points twice in the game, the last time at 40-35 with 10:26 to play, before a clutch 17-7 run, keyed by Hager and Benningfield, gave the Black and Gold a 52-47 advantage with 4:05 remaining.
The Lady Jaguars wouldn’t go away as USA player Sara Carter hit a long three-pointer with only 14 seconds left in regulation to knot the score at 55-55. However, Benningfield was fouled on a last second drive with 0.1 of a second remaining and stepped to the free throw line with a chance to win the game for VU, but missed two charity tosses to force the overtime session.
Earley had four crucial points in the extra period to keep the game in reach for Vanderbilt and helped provide the opportunity for Hager’s late-game heroics.
Next up for the Black and Gold is the championship game of the Banknorth Classic on Saturday night, Nov. 22nd at 7:00 p.m. VU will meet either home-standing Vermont or the Terriers of St. Francis (NY).