They won! Awesome! 77-72 in OT according to the Vanderbilt site. I couldn't find the final score anywhere related to Indiana State, including the Tribstar. As a fan living out of town that's very frustrating and disappointing.
In a game where the biggest, strongest player on the floor looked like she might take the game over, the smallest player on the court came up with the biggest plays to secure the biggest win in Indiana State women?s basketball history.
This was a very fun game to watch and a landmark win for the program - a night to remember. We have dominated weaker teams for many years but struggled somewhat to compete against tall and/or athletic teams who can handle the press and defend our half court offense. We overcame those challenges last night. However, I fear that major conference teams such as Vandy and MSU will be even less willing to come here in the future than they have previously. This win also means that future opponents will be gearing up for us as a big game, including Michigan State and conference opp's.
Lots of things contributed to the win - specifically, the free throw differential; the team rebounding effort against a larger, more physical opponent; the ability to turn them over; and the adjustments from the team and staff during the game.
When you shoot 17-20 in one game, it's a good night, but this is 58-67 for the season, and that's no fluke. This team can shoot, and will win as long as teams put them at the line or don't consistently find the perimeter shooters (Vandy did in the 1st half, but a lot of the 3's in the 2nd came out of transition or scrambles).
Schilli was big and Rudi and Mo got more confident as the game went on. Their big girl got tired and really went passive after her 4th, even though there could have been some calls for her 5th. Getting a rebounding effort from all five players will continue to be important.
Vandy really didn't play well, at least for a Top 25 team. They are very dependent on post play offensively and really didn't try to take us out of anything. After some early coaching moves from them that caused us problems, we had all the answers from the bench until they planned the defense for the inbounds pass with 30 seconds left that really gave us problems. Fortunately we got the TO and hit the four FT's at the end. For a team with 3 new assistants who scout and prepare the players individually, we looked well prepared and were a step ahead of their coaches most of the game.
Perhaps the best thing in retrospect is that we won without playing our best at times. I don't think we've seen this team's best game by a long shot. We were very hesitant and on our heels quite a bit of the first half, and not ready for their size and team speed, which you can't simulate in practice. Rudi was gunshy early and we looked a bit intimidated and rushed at times, especially on the offensive end. (Those are things we only tend to remember after a loss.) Until Annie's 3 from the corner to beat the clock and subsequent drive and dish, I think we scored 3 points in 11 or 12 minutes! (Craig Pearson pointed this out in his second consecutive fine post-game article in the Trib-Star. You could feel the energy of the crowd and team change at that point.) It's very unusual to pull an upset with such a dry spell, but we made up for it with hustle, smart play, and some timely shooting (not to mention some very good FT defense!) You could see the team adjusting to the talent level of the opposition throughout the game and becoming more confident and aggressive and this will make us much better later in the year.
As I'm sure our team was told by the staff last night and/or today, this win only means a lot if we beat the teams we should beat in the upcoming games.
If you like smart, fundamentally sound, fast-paced basketball, there's plenty of home games left! This team deserves our vociferous support, and as Rudi pointed out afterwards, the crowd made a difference last night!