A Dominating Start

Commodores cruise past Auburn in league opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Commodores made an emphatic statement Thursday inside Memorial Gymnasium. And they did so despite trailing before the game even started.

Visiting Auburn was awarded a pair of free throws at the outset due to a shot clock malfunction. The Tigers had a 1-0 lead before the opening tip – and that was that last bit of momentum they would enjoy.

Four Commodores scored in double figures and Chelsie Hall flirted with a double-double in a 77-55 victory that was not nearly as close as the final score would indicate. Vanderbilt (11-3, 1-0 SEC) led by many as 35 and started 1-0 in conference play for the first time since 2014.

“In the beginning of the season we were picked last,” Hall said. “To go out there and show them how much we’ve worked these past couple months, it was just big. It’s such a difference from last year.

“As we keep going forward we just have learn from this game and keep moving forward.”



Hall finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Jordyn Cambridge, despite playing with six stitches on her forehead stemming from a cut suffered during Sunday’s win over Columbia, was nearly as impressive with seven assists, seven rebounds, six points and five steals.

And senior Mariella Fasoula was a rebound short of a double-double with 21 points and nine boards. Demi Washington added 17 and Autumn Newby chipped in 11 as Vandy rolled to its largest win over the Tigers (6-6, 0-1 SEC) since 2007.

“When I talk about making a statement, I think just making more of a statement of who we are,” Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White said. “We’re a team that respects everyone and fears no one. We’re a team that’s going to fight and claw and scrap.”

For the Commodores, a squad that won only seven games a year ago and only two Southeastern Conference contests, Thursday’s result maybe further emphasized the 2019-20 squad has a different makeup. They played with a fiery energy throughout the first half and a relentlessness that refused to let Auburn breathe.

The Tigers had a six-game winning streak over Vandy before Thursday but that clearly was ending before the first half was over.

Vanderbilt, now on a six-game winning streak, shot 67.9 percent from the field in the first two quarters and forced 14 turnovers. It also only made just one 3 for the entire game – but it didn’t really even need that make as it dominated from start to finish.

“We’re the most athletic since we’ve been here,” White said. “Most athletic Vanderbilt team I’ve seen in a long time. You got have the athletes to be able to play in the SEC. For us this is the first year that we’ve had those. I wish we had more depth right now, but it is what it is from an injury standpoint. But everyone else is getting opportunities.

“Our athleticism allows us to be better defensively. It allows us to get up and down the floor at a better pace. You can see we’ve got a lot of great slashers. We just got to work on decision making and finishing.”

The Commodores, which went 2-16 in the SEC a year ago and didn’t earn their first conference win until their sixth try, now hit the road to face Florida (9-5, 0-1 SEC). A win in Gainesville, Florida, would make Vandy 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2013.

And if they play like they did against Auburn, the Dores will be able enjoy all the good vibes they soaked up after Thursday’s win.

“I can’t help but smile. It feels amazing,” Hall said. “It’s just a huge turnaround and I’m just excited to play with this team for the rest of the season.”

• Vanderbilt now leads the series with Auburn 29-22 and 14-9 at home.

• The Commodores have still out-rebounded every opponent this season.

• Vandy is now 11-0 when holding the opponent to less than 40 percent shooting.

• Fasoula eclipsed the 700-point mark for her Vanderbilt career. The redshirt senior has 701 points for the Commodores.

Dominant League Opener by Vanderbilt Athletics on Exposure