Bad start dooms Vanderbilt women in loss to Bowling Green

Friday, December 4, 2009 at 10:01pm

One finger. Two knees.

That pretty much tells the story of how Vanderbilt was upset 66-60 by Bowling Green in a women’s basketball contest at Memorial Gymnasium.

The finger belonged to BGSU coach Curt Miller, who wore the ring his team earned from the 2007 NCAA tournament, when it defeated Vanderbilt on the way to a spot in the Sweet 16.

“I wear it on big occasions, and [Friday] night was a big occasion because we have such respect for this [Vanderbilt] program,” Miller said. “… It reminded us that we beat Vanderbilt a couple years ago and now we’re very, very excited about this win.”

The knees belonged to two players — one from each side.

The 16th-ranked Commodores (7-1) found out before the game that they will be without starting forward Jordan Coleman for the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL in her left knee, which she sustained in the previous contest.

The sophomore averaged 7.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, and had a team-high 15 steals through the first seven games. One player, Lauren Lueders, started the game in her place and another, Elan Brown, opened the second half in that spot.

“She’s been so steady,” coach Melanie Balcom said. “… We missed her energy at the start of the game, and she had been starting because of her defense and her energy and [because] she was playing within herself on offense.”

Bowling Green (5-2) made nine of its first 14 shots and jumped out to a 22-4 lead. Vanderbilt eventually got within 10 in the final minute of the first half (33-23), but Bowling Green’s Lauren Prochaska scored six unanswered points in the final 37 seconds.

The only time the Commodores led was after Jence Rhoads’ layup with 3:25 to go in the game made it 59-58. After that, VU missed its final eight shots, got only one free throw from Jessica Mooney and was outscored 8-1.

“We just came out flat, I guess,” Rhoads said. “I don’t know if we took them for granted, or what. They were obviously ready for us and we weren’t ready to play.”

The Falcons, conversely, welcomed back center Tara Breske, who missed the prior two games with what was initially feared to be a season-ending knee injury. She played 16 minutes off the bench and contributed two points and two rebounds to a team that shot 56.1 percent for the game and had a 32-29 edge in rebounds.

“Fortunately we got the news that it wasn’t an ACL (tear),” Miller said. “… We got the go-ahead [Friday] night to throw her out there and she how she did. She was a big shot in the arm for us.”

The bigger shots came from Prochaska, Tracy Pontius and Tamika Nurse, who combined to make five of eight 3-point shots in the opening half and seven of 11 for the game.

Vanderbilt’s defense tightened over the final 20 minutes, when it forced 17 turnovers and limited Bowling Green to just 15 shots. Rhoads scored 13 of her team-high 17 points, and Lueders added seven of her 11 in the second half. As a team, the Commodores attempted 37 shots after halftime.

“It was in the gameplan and the scout (report) – to take away the 3,” Balcomb said. “… That’s that team’s strength. The gameplan was to take that away. … We didn’t stick to the gameplan in the first half.

“We still had every opportunity to win but didn’t hit the big shot or get the big stop when it was close.”