The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball looks to bounce back against an energized Auburn

After a fourth quarter collapse against Missouri, Vanderbilt now has to face an Auburn team fresh off an unexpected underdog victory.
Miguel Beristain
Jordyn Oliver dribbling against Missouri on Jan. 14, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

After being placed right outside the top 25 in the AP poll, this was the week for Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball to prove themselves to the nation. With two home SEC games before the weekend, the Commodores needed to sweep the week to put respect on their name. Leading Missouri 52-44 at the end of the third quarter, Vanderbilt would be outscored in the fourth quarter 21-11 en route to a two-point loss. In an unforeseen heartbreaker, Vanderbilt was handed its first SEC loss and its second loss of the season.

Auburn—on the other hand—is coming off its best win of the season. On Sunday, the Tigers faced No. 10 LSU in Auburn and won 67-62. Not only did Sunday mark Auburn’s first win in the SEC, but it handed LSU its first unranked loss of the season.

The Tigers are entering Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday with immense positivity and electricity, and it’s up to Vanderbilt to prove that Sunday’s loss was a fluke. So basically, this is a must-win game for Vanderbilt.

This is also a redemption game for Vanderbilt, falling to Auburn 78-76 in February of last season, thanks to 15 points from Honesty Scott-Grayson, who remains the team’s leading scorer into this season. Averaging 15.8 points per game on 14.3 shots a game, Scott-Grayson is a capable scorer off the catch or the dribble, and containing her will be Vanderbilt’s biggest priority.

Another name to look out for is Auburn’s point guard, Jamya Mingo-Young. The fifth-year Alabama transfer is averaging 4.1 assists per game—eighth in the SEC—to go along with her 9.5 points and 1.5 steals a game. Where Mingo-Young is most effective, though, is in controlling the pace. While she can slow it down to run the offense, Jamya Mingo-Young loves to run in transition, especially off of a defensive rebound. She typically exploits three-on-twos and has a lethal pull-up mid-range when given space on the break. Look for the matchup between Mingo-Young and Vanderbilt’s Jordyn Cambridge to be one of the deciding factors in Thursday’s game, not only because they’re two of the best guards in the conference but also because Cambridge’s knee will be tested against a quick guard who loves to get out and run.

The other defensive key for Vanderbilt is its pick-and-roll defense and defensive awareness. Auburn coach Johnnie Harris is a wizard at drawing up off-ball movement to set up mid-range shots and an on-ball twist screens—where the screener sets a re-screen when the defender slips the initial screen. LSU struggled against Auburn’s action, going under the initial screen prematurely, leading to open mid-ranges and three-pointers off the twist screen. While Vanderbilt typically switches on defense—preventing the effectiveness of the twist screen and off-ball movement—the team is susceptible to laziness and miscommunications. With all the movement of Auburn’s offense, any small mental lapse can lead to an easy and preventable two (or three) points.

The player to watch for Vanderbilt in this game is Khamil Pierre. Coming off 16 points in two straight games, Pierre was awarded SEC’s Freshman of the Week for the second time this season. The 6’2” forward has proved to be a reliable backup for the dominant Sacha Washington and has proven herself to be a trustworthy contributor in the latter parts of a game.

Where Pierre struggles, though, is in ball protection. Despite racking up 12 rebounds against Missouri, Pierre also led the team with 4 turnovers. Auburn typically sends doubles when the ball is in the post, so it’s imperative that both Pierre and Washington protect the rock and find the open shooter, respectively.

With back-to-back road games against Tennessee and No. 1 South Carolina coming up, Vanderbilt cannot afford to fall into a losing streak. If Vanderbilt wants to shock the world in Columbia, it must first build all its pre-Missouri momentum back. That all starts with a big win against Auburn on Thursday.

The Commodores and Tigers will tip off in Memorial Gymnasium at 2:00 p.m. CST on Thursday, Jan. 18.

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About the Contributors
Connor Campbell
Connor Campbell, Senior Staff Writer
Connor Campbell ('25) is a human and organizational development and cinema and media arts major from Staten Island, N.Y. Connor shares a strong love for both sports and film, leading to his interest in "The Ringer" and, consequently, his casual and quippy style of writing. Outside of The Hustler, Connor does freelance photography, runs the social media accounts for Vanderbilt Club Hockey and is the president of Vanderbilt Tap That. You can reach him at [email protected].
Miguel Beristain
Miguel Beristain, Senior Staff Photographer
Miguel Beristain (’24) is a philosophy and cellular and molecular biology double major in the College of Arts and Science from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When not shooting for The Hustler, he can usually be found playing Magic the Gathering, exploring new restaurants or practicing guitar. He can be reached at .
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