March 3, 2007
***Visit Vanderbilt's SEC Tournament Central Site for Complete Coverage of the Commodores***
Read Will Matthews' Post-Game Column: Friday Won't Cut It Come Saturday
Free Audio: Listen to the post-game press conference with Balcomb, Williams and Wirth
Free Audio: Listen to Charlie Mattos' post-game recap plus a Georgia preview
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Barca Blog - Life on the Road - Day Three (just posted at 10:30 a.m. Saturday)
DULUTH, Ga. (AP) -- Vanderbilt's players weren't surprised they flirted with an SEC tournament record by making 66 percent of their shots in Friday night's win over Florida.
"We're shooters," Christina Wirth said. "That's what we do."
Wirth and Vanderbilt's hot shooters were on target most of the time in their 105-77 win over Florida, finishing just shy of the SEC tournament record. Georgia shot 67.3 percent from the field against Mississippi in the 1986 tournament.
Florida's Carolyn Peck and Vanderbilt's Melanie Balcomb embrace following Vanderbilt's 105-77 win Friday night at the 2007 SEC Tournament. The loss ended Carolyn Peck's final season as Florida's coach.|
Vanderbilt completed the SEC tournament's semifinal field of four ranked teams. The No. 13 Commodores will play No. 10 Georgia in Saturday night's second semifinal game. The first will match No. 2 Tennessee against No. 11 LSU.
"When you score a lot of points, a lot of people are impressed," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "One of the things I was disappointed with was our defense. ... I think we're going to have to do a much better job defensively."
Vanderbilt (25-5) was 11-for-15 from 3-point range and shot 66 percent from the field overall. Wirth led the Commodores with 19 points while making all five of her 3-pointers. Caroline Williams and Carla Thomas scored 16 points apiece. Dee Davis added 15 and Jessica Mooney had 11.
"When we hit a couple of shots, it gets contagious," said Williams, who was 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. "I think we're confident."
The loss ended Carolyn Peck's final season as Florida's coach.
Peck was fired on Feb. 12, one day after the Gators' 13th straight loss, but coached the team through the end of the season. The Gators then won three of four games, including a 69-63 upset win over Mississippi State on Thursday night in the first round of the SEC tournament.
Peck, who played at Vanderbilt, did not leave quietly. She was called for a first-half technical foul after complaining to officials as Vanderbilt's lead reached 20 points. After the technical, she issued a quiet complaint by briefly sitting on the far end of the Florida bench by the team's cheerleaders.
After the loss, she gathered her players for a brief midcourt huddle and left while cheered by a small group of Florida fans and still had tears in her eyes when speaking with reporters.
"It's been a privilege and an honor to work with these young women," Peck said.
When asked about her plans, Peck said "As for where I'm going, I'm going back to Gainesville with my team."
Marshae Dotson led Florida (9-22) with 20 points and nine rebounds. Sha Brooks added 17 points and Briana Phillips had 11.
Vanderbilt pulled away from Florida early, taking its first 10-point lead at 17-7 on a 3-pointer by Williams and pushing the advantage to 23 points late in the first half.
The Commodores shot 70.4 percent from the field in the half, including 7-for-8 on 3-point attempts. Vanderbilt's final 3 of the night, by Meredith Marsh with 1:37 left to play, pushed the Commodores past the 100-point mark for the third time this season and the first time in a conference game.