Auburn turned a 17-point third-quarter deficit into a lead in just 10 minutes of game time before out-executing Vanderbilt down the stretch to get a 64-59 victory Thursday night in Nashville.
The Tigers held the Commodores without a field goal for the final 3:49, allowing just two Rachel Bell free throws during that time. On the offensive end, Auburn went to its star guard Brandy Montgomery down the stretch, as Montgomery poured in 14 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a five-point deficit for the Tigers to begin the quarter.
Vanderbilt was led by freshman Kayla Overbeck, who had a double-double for the Commodores with 16 points and 10 rebounds on 6 for 9 shooting. Bell added 16 more for Vanderbilt, which has now lost six straight after a 10-1 start to the season.
The Commodores started slowly in this one, quickly falling behind 4-0 a few possessions into the game while struggling mightily with Auburn’s press. A quick run of three three-pointers by Christa Reed and Cierra Walker calmed the Commodores down and tied the game at nine about halfway through the first quarter.
Both teams then went silent on offense, combining for only eight points over the final 4:38 of the first quarter, including scoreless streaks for both teams that totaled over two minutes. A Janiah McKay pull-up jumper with two seconds left in the first tied the teams at 13 heading to the second.
In the second quarter, the turnover problems continued for the Commodores, as they gave the ball up another five times to bring their total up to 13 in just 20 minutes of play. However, Vanderbilt clamped down on the defensive end, holding Auburn scoreless in the second quarter for extended periods of time while the offense produced long scoring runs.
After going into the half up by eight, Vanderbilt started the second half strong, going on a quick 13-4 run to open its lead to 45-28 with 4:51 to go in the 3rd quarter. This would be the Commodores’ biggest lead, as the Tigers quickly followed with a 12-0 run of their own to claw back to a five-point deficit with 1:04 to go in the period. Vanderbilt would finish the quarter strong, however, and took a 49-42 lead into the final quarter.
Turnovers and poor execution would doom the Commodores in the fourth. Auburn, which had gone the whole game without making a three-pointer up to that point, saw Montgomery knock down two early threes in the fourth, the second of which to pull within one of Vanderbilt. The Tiger press, which had seldom bothered the Commodores from the second quarter on, began to get a foothold again, forcing Vanderbilt into five fourth-quarter turnovers, while Auburn, which had struggled to hold on to the ball itself, went the whole period without a turnover.
Auburn used a McKay layup with 59 seconds remaining to go up for good, and Vanderbilt turned the ball over on both of its next two possessions, bringing their total to 24 for the game and putting the nail in their coffin.