No. 9 Vanderbilt 64, No. 20 Mississippi 57
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) _ Rhonda Blades came up with two key baskets and a late offensive rebound as No. 9 Vanderbilt rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat No. 20 Mississippi 64-57 Saturday in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Vanderbilt (24-6) trailed most of the game against its undersized opponent and didn’t take the lead for good until Blades scored on a drive with 3:32 left.
The Commodores got back in it by using a full-court press to rattle the Lady Rebels (21-7) and earned a berth in the semifinals Sunday against the winner of Saturday’s late game between Florida and Georgia.
``We didn’t attack on offense. We were kind of passive,″ Vanderbilt coach Jim Foster said. ``The press woke us up. It got us into another gear, another level.″
Lisa Ostrom led Vanderbilt with 15 points, while Na’Sheema Hillmon and Shari Sam each scored 13. Yolanda Moore, Lisa Miller and Katrecia Craig each had 12 points for Mississippi.
Mississippi, which had lost at Vanderbilt 79-54 on Jan. 3, frustrated the Commodores for the first two-thirds of the game with its patience on offense and led 50-39 after Miller scored on a stumbling drive down the left side of the lane with 13:27 left.
Until that point, Vanderbilt hadn’t scored more than two consecutive baskets.
``It’s very hard to get into a rhythm when they’re taking that much time off the clock,″ Foster said. ``They had a great game plan.″
But the Commodores put together a 13-1 run that included a 3-pointer by Blades from the top of the key to go up 52-51 with 7:11 to play.
Mississippi held two more leads after that, the last at 55-54 on Sabrina McNair’s free throw. Vanderbilt then ran a perfect play to get Blades a layup for a 56-55 lead and didn’t trail again.
Angela Gorsica’s putback and Sam’s turnaround jump shot from the left baseline made it 60-55 with 1:52 remaining and Vanderbilt held on with the help of two offensive rebounds in the final minute.
Gorsica rebounded Sam’s miss and Blades, the only Vanderbilt player lined up along the lane, hustled for a loose ball after Sam missed a free throw.
``I wasn’t really expecting to get the rebound,″ Blades said. ``It happened to be loose, I went for it and got it.″
Ostrom and Sams then made two free throws apiece to wrap it up.
Mississippi had played a tough game on Friday, beating Mississippi State 78-69 while Vanderbilt had a bye. But coach Van Chancellor said his team didn’t lose because it was tired.
``Fatigue didn’t hurt us,″ he said. ``That was just a little minor deal. It was offensive rebounding and sticking the ball back in there, that was the game, making free throws, doing the job. We had them down, but they got out of it by making plays.″