No. 9 Vanderbilt 82, No. 11 Georgia 56
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) _ No. 9 Vanderbilt smothered Georgia’s high-powered offense Sunday and earned a third shot at Tennessee.
Freshman Lisa Ostrom scored 20 points and Vanderbilt used a 12-2 run in each half to break the game open in beating 11th-ranked Georgia 82-56 in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
The victory sends the Commodores (25-6) into Monday night’s championship game for the third straight year and sets up a third meeting this season with No. 2 Tennessee. Tennessee, which won both regular-season games, beat No. 16 Alabama 84-70 in Sunday’s other semifinal.
Georgia (24-4) was frustrated by Vanderbilt’s size inside and fell 27 points below its season scoring average. Vanderbilt blocked 10 shots _ eight by 6-foot-7 Angela Gorsica to tie the SEC tournament record _ and held the Lady Bulldogs to 31.3 percent shooting with its 2-3 zone.
``I don’t think you have to play man-to-man to be a good defensive basketball team,″ Vanderbilt coach Jim Foster said. ``I think (Temple coach) John Chaney will attest to that.″
Shari Sam added 18 points for Vanderbilt and Mara Cunningham and Michelle Palmisano each had 14. Gorsica finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead Vanderbilt’s 53-31 edge on the boards.
``I think there’s a misconception about Vanderbilt that we don’t play hard, that we don’t rebound, that we don’t get on the floor after the ball. I think they’re false,″ Foster said.
``We came out today with an agenda, just like we have all year, to prove that we’re not a finesse basketball team, that there’s more to us.″
Kedra Holland’s 16 points led Georgia and Tracy Henderson scored 15. La’Keshia Frett, Georgia’s leading scorer with a 15.7 average, aggravated an injury to her right ankle and scored only four points.
``It’s not a talent thing that got us whipped. It’s effort,″ Georgia coach Andy Landers said. ``There’s two things that we don’t coach at Georgia _ effort and attitude. Effort is given. It isn’t something that’s taken.″
Landers said the lack of effort prevented him from making an adjustments to counter what Vanderbilt was doing and he was so disgusted that he walked out of the postgame press conference after noting, ``You can ask me all the questions you want. Nothing’s going to work if you don’t play hard.″
Ostrom hit two straight jump shots from the left baseline to start the game and Vanderbilt never trailed. It was 24-15 when Vanderbilt went on its first-half run, holding Georgia without a field goal for 6 minutes.
Georgia missed 10 shots during that stretch and five different players scored for Vanderbilt as the Commodores opened a 36-17 lead on Ostrom’s two free throws with 4:38 left in the half.
Holland’s 3-pointer ended Georgia’s drought and the Lady Bulldogs got the lead down to 40-31 by halftime.
But Vanderbilt opened the second half with another 12-2 run to go up 52-33 and dash any Georgia comeback hopes. Georgia was never closer than 16 points after that.