STORRS, Conn. -- Vanderbilt kept its composure after losing a double-digit second-half lead to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Tiffany Clarke had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Commodores (21-11) to a 60-54 win Saturday over ninth-seeded Saint Joseph's.Jasmine Lister added 14 points for the No. 8 seed, which will play top-seeded Connecticut on Monday night."It was ugly, but the first round, first game, usually is," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "In the end we made some clutch baskets down the stretch."Chatilla van Grinsven scored 14 points, all in the second half, for Saint Joseph's (23-9). Natasha Cloud and Ilze Gotfrida each chipped in 10.Vanderbilt led most of the way and was up 40-30 after Lister's 3-pointer with 15:54 to play.Saint Joseph's would not go away, tying it at 48 on a layup by Van Grinsven with 6:48 to go. She had six points in the 8-0 run that closed the gap."I tried to give it everything I had my senior year, my last game," Van Grinsven said.But Heather Bowe's driving layup gave the Commodores the lead back, and Vanderbilt held it down the stretch.Van Grinsven cut the deficit back to two twice after offensive rebounds. But Lister's driving layup with 40 seconds left made it 58-54, and Van Grinsven fouled out with 28 seconds remaining."At that point, the game was going really, really fast and everybody was scrambling everywhere," Lister said. "So it was a key that we all came together."Van Grinsven came in averaging 15 points and 10.5 rebounds but picked up two fouls less than 3 minutes into the game. She sat on the bench for the rest of the first half.Gotfrida made up for her absence, coming off the bench to score eight of the Hawks' first 15 points.The teams were tied at 25 before Vanderbilt went on an 8-2 run to close the half.The Commodores outrebounded St. Joe's 47-32, a key because neither team shot well. Vanderbilt was just 22 for 59 from the floor but held the Hawks to 19 baskets in 55 attempts."They made a run, but we regrouped and we had confidence in ourselves," Clarke said.Vanderbilt is playing in its 14th straight NCAA tournament despite an injury-plagued season that forced Balcomb to use seven different starting lineups. Saint Joseph's was making its 12th NCAA tournament appearance, but its first since 2000. The Hawks beat top-seeded Dayton in the Atlantic 10 semifinals and won the championship game by a point over Fordham.The game was the 127th in the career of Saint Joseph's guard Ashley Prim, tying Michelle Baker's school record.Vanderbilt advanced to the second round of the tournament for the 13th time in the past 14 seasons but has been to the Final Four just once, in 1993.