Two failed rallies had different results for Vanderbilt's men's and women's basketball teams over the weekend in Southeastern Conference games.
A furious comeback by the men's team fell short against the University of Kentucky, while a late second-half charge by Alabama wasn't enough to beat the Vanderbilt women.
The No. 20-rated Vanderbilt women jumped out to an 8-0 lead and were never seriously challenged by the Crimson Tide until giving up 16 unanswered points from the 8:58 mark of the second half to 3:24 cutting a 60-37 lead to 60-54. The Commodores held on for a 68-56 victory, their third straight in the SEC. A crowd of 3,728 watched Sunday afternoon in Memorial Gym.
During the Crimson Tide run the Commodores missed seven field goals, five from 3-point range.
"We just started shooting too many threes...simple," said Vanderbilt coach Jim Foster. "We hadn't seen a zone in a long, long time. I think there is a tendency to forget just how young this team is. We're winning games and we're having some success, but we are a very young basketball team.
"Some of these players have never been in the situations they have been in this season before. In effect, what we did was act young for a period of time and not take advantage of what we had been doing."
Vanderbilt forward Zuzana Klimesova led all scorers with 24 points and eight rebounds. Center Chantelle Anderson finished with 16 and guard Jillian Danker had 10 points and a game-leading 10 rebounds.
A jumper by Klimesova at 1:20 which increased the Commodores lead to 64-56 was typical of what his veteran players have to do, according to Foster.
"Zuzi took a short jumper facing the basket which was the thing to do," Foster said. "She had been posting up. There are little nuances like that veterans might do more often."
Klimesova said the shot was a reaction to Foster yelling at her to make the move.
"I decided on the next play down to step out," Klimesova said. "I was guarded at first and then I stepped out and took it. To be honest with you I thought it was an air ball. I felt like I just closed by eyes and shot it. There are games like that."
Foster said that when a player hits 10-of-12 from the field like Klimesova, she is entitled to shoot one or two with her eyes closed.
Point guard Ashley McElhiney tried to get the offense back on track as the Crimson Tide continued to cut the lead.
"You just try to run the offense," McElhiney said. "We were coming down and taking quick shots and they weren't going in. They were getting rebounds and we weren't playing defense."
Foster praised his team's defensive efforts, especially in stopping Alabama's 3-point shooters who were only one-for eight.
"The bottom line is we needed to win the game and we did win," Foster said. "We need to grow from it."
Vanderbilt, 18-7, 7-5, visits Tennessee Thursday night at 6:30.
Saturday afternoon the Commodores did just about everything they could except win against the No. 22-ranked Wildcats in front of a sellout crowd of 14,168 at Memorial Gym. With as many as four freshmen on the court at one time Vanderbilt fought back from a 19-point second half deficit to take over the lead 60-59 with 6:39 left to play.
"A guy told me a long time ago it's easy to come back, but not anybody can come back and win," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "I don't put a lot of stock in coming back and getting close. That doesn't do too much for me.
"I don't take any consolation that we are a young team. If you're good enough to get close, and good enough to be leading the game in the last 10 minutes you are good enough to win. We were good enough to win this game. We didn't do it."
The Commodores switched to a zone in the second half that was effective until the final six minutes when the Wildcats started hitting the boards.
"Vanderbilt showed a lot of heart and courage to get back into the game," said Kentucky coach Tubby Smith whose team is 17-7, 10-2. "They switched to the zone in the second half which gave us a lot of problems. We missed some shots.
"Vanderbilt got very aggressive defensively in the second half and limited some things we were trying to do. They made us use a lot of time to get shots off. Whenever you come here to play you know you are in for a fight."
In the final four minutes Tayshaun Prince took over for the Wildcats turning a two-point Vanderbilt lead into the Wildcats seventh straigt SEC victory with 10 of his game-leading 27 points. The Commodores held Prince to 11 first half points by playing a physcial defensive game against him.
"I think it only makes sense that that is the way to play him," Stallings said. "I thought we were doing a decent job. He makes big plays. I don't know if he took over as much as he hit some shots. He needed to hit some shots because nobdody else was hitting for them. Unfortunately, our guys treated him in the zone like we treated everyone else."
Stallings said the Commodores tried a couple of special defensive plays to stop Prince, but that the attempts failed because "of ignorance."
"The first thing you want to do is make sure he dribbles it," Stallings said. "You don't want to just let him catch it, get in a rhythm and shoot it. A couple of times we let him do that. We'll just have to go over our scouting report a little more in-depth next time.
"Ironically, to tell you how smart I am, all week long I had been saying all week long that we didn't want him to beat us going down the stretch. We wanted to make somebody else beat us."
It marked the 17th straight time the Commodores have lost to the Wildcats and Stallings thinks that history might have had something to do with the final outcome.
"There's one great thing about freshmen, they don't know any better," said Stallings of his team's rally. "They weren't here for those other games.
"I'm not so sure the older guys believed. The older guys tried, but I'm not sure they believed. But I'm not sure they didn't. Make sure you print that."
Chuck Moore led the Commodores in scoring with 16 points, but the rest of the double figure scorers were all freshmen _ Matt Freije (13), Bill y Richmond (13) and Brendan Plavich (12). All eleven of Plavich's field goal attempts were 3-point tries. He hit four.
The loss dropped the Commodores to 15-10, 4-8, heading into Wednesday's game at Mississippi State.