9:00 PM ET, February 22, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The 12th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores think they're peaking at just the right time.Carla Thomas scored 23 points and Vanderbilt beat No. 7 LSU 68-58 Thursday night for the Commodores' seventh straight victory and their first over a Top 10 team since March 2003.With the win, Vanderbilt (24-4, 10-3) snapped a tie with LSU and moved into a tie with Georgia for second in the Southeastern Conference although Georgia holds the tiebreaker. The Commodores, who finish the regular season Sunday at No. 2 Tennessee, moved closer to a first-round bye in the league tournament next week."I think we're capable of a lot more than we showed tonight," Thomas said. "It's coming around at the right time. Senior night, it's coming together at the end of the year."The Tigers (23-6, 9-4) now have lost three of their last four and missed a chance to help coach Pokey Chatman celebrate her 100th game with a victory."They were playing with a lot of emotion," Chatman said of the Commodores. "When it boiled down to it, they turned up their defense a notch and probably made us play a little bit quicker."Senior Dee Davis had 17 points in the Commodores' final home game this season. Caroline Williams and Christina Wirth each had 12 as Vanderbilt shot 54.2 percent against the nation's stingiest scoring defense, which had held opponents to 49.1 points per game.The Commodores came in as the SEC's top shooting team, hitting 50.6 percent from the floor."We told our team, as if they didn't already know, that Vanderbilt was an offensive powerhouse, and the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense," Chatman said. "They were better in all aspects in that regard tonight. We can break it down, but the bottom line is they were better tonight and therefore victorious."LSU's Erica White tied a career high with 22 points. Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and 10 rebounds.But it was defense that Vandy coach Melanie Balcomb wanted her Commodores to focus on in the second half."We talked about making them work harder for their shots. We weren't being aggressive enough and backed off. We talked about playing to win the game," Balcomb said.It worked. Thomas, who sprained her right ankle Wednesday in practice, scored with 3:54 to go and put Vandy up to stay in outscoring LSU 13-2 down the stretch. The Tigers didn't score again until 26.3 seconds remained.Vandy beat LSU for the first time in three games because the nation's best 3-point shooting team hit 7 of 11. Thomas, who had missed her first five 3s -- even hit the first of her career. Appropriate too since it was then-No. 4 LSU that Vandy beat March 2, 2003, for its last victory over a Top 10 team."Finally, finally," said Thomas, who spent the night in the locker room receiving treatment for her ankle.Davis said it wasn't as tough against the LSU defense as she had expected."It was a tough game just because they're a great team and Pokey's a great coach. They had a great game plan against us. We just executed on both ends. We knew we had to be the aggressor coming out. We had something to fight for," Davis said.LSU had a chance to put away the game when the Tigers went up 46-41 with 14 minutes left after a bucket by Fowles.But Williams, one of three Vanderbilt seniors, hit a 3 and started a 10-0 run. Thomas broke a tie at 46 with the first 3-pointer of her career from the top of the key midway through the half, and Williams scored on a layup to cap the spurt.Porscha Phillips scored and RaShonta LeBlanc hit a 3 to tie it again at 51. Davis and Thomas each scored to put Vandy back up 55-51 with 6:19 to go. Fowles scored for a 56-54 lead with 4:13 leftThomas answered once again even though she started the second half with three personal fouls.Vanderbilt couldn't have started better, while LSU may have played its worst. The Commodores hit five of their first six shots and led 12-1.The Tigers didn't score until Fowles hit a jumper with 15:30 to go, and Vandy built its lead to as much as 18-5.But then this was the seventh straight game the Commodores have started by overwhelming their opponent, jumping out by a combined score of 69-11 by the first media timeout of the game.LSU didn't go away. White hit five of her first six shots for 14 points, and the junior who made only six 3s all season hit two of three in the first half. The Tigers slowly whittled down the lead and scored the last five on a 3-pointer by White and two free throws by LeBlanc to tie the game at 33.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||22-48 (.458)||26-48 (.542)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-13 (.385)||7-12 (.583)|
|FT Made-Attempted||9-13 (.692)||9-11 (.818)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||11 (0/0)||13 (0/0)|