By Travis Young
With the ‘Dores in the midst of a tough four-game stretch to open conference play and a trip to Knoxville in the coming days, the injured-plagued Commodores knew they needed to play its best game of the season to top the Bulldogs.
Not only did the Commodores have a two-game losing streak on its back, it also had to prepare for the undefeated and sixth-ranked Bulldogs without its floor general Jence Rhoads and a banged up Lauren Lueders.
However, over the years VU has responded extremely well under adversity under head coach Melanie Balcomb and that held true again as VU manhandled Georgia in Memorial Gym on Thursday, winning 66-44.
With Rhoads sitting out with a wrist injury, Balcomb challenged the freshman duo of Elan Brown and Gabby Smith to step up and help fill the void of Jence against the Bulldogs. And did they respond.
The freshman trio of Tiffany Clarke, Brown and Smith combined to score 37 of VU’s 66 points (56 percent), including career-high performances from Brown (11 pts) and Smith (12 pts), to give VU it’s sixth win in the last seven meetings with Georgia.
“The freshmen have played so much in practice and they have responded well to our coaching staff,” Balcomb said. “It was obvious tonight that they were listening to what we were saying. You have to respond to our coaching in order to run our game. It's amazing how well the freshmen responded. They have to shoot the ball and not be hesitant and that was what was different about Gabby and Elan's game tonight.”
If the ‘Dores can get a total team effort out of an already short-handed roster on Sunday in Knoxville, Vanderbilt has a good chance to knock off its second-straight top-10 opponent.
In case you missed last night’s action, you can check out all the postgame reaction from VU’s 22-point win over Georgia, including highlights, interviews and photos by clicking here.