Commodores Going Strong in the Paint

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fans at Memorial Gymnasium on Sunday saw Vanderbilt’s post players at work in an SEC matchup against Georgia.
There was Bree Horrocks – all 6-5 of her – draining midrange jumpers. There was 6-5 Mariella Fasoula banking in a layup, plus the foul, in the second quarter. And there was 6-2 Autumn Newby boxing out and cleaning the glass on seemingly every possession against the Bulldogs.
Vanderbilt ran out of gas in a close 71-64 loss to visiting Georgia at Memorial. But the Dores displayed what could be a dangerous trio of post players in Fasoula, Horrocks and Newby, who collaborated to stuff the box score in their SEC home opener.
Those three Commodores combined to score 45 of the team’s 64 points on Sunday, accounting for 19 of Vanderbilt’s 25 made field goals. Fasoula led the Dores with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Newby chipped in 18 points and five boards. Horrocks scored six points with two rebounds and two assists, drilling two outside shots that stretched Georgia’s defense.
Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White said her team’s three-headed monster in the paint has become a theme of the season.
“One of the areas Fas has really grown in, and will continue to grow, is being poised when she catches the ball so she can start to read it,” White said after the Georgia game. “Her balance is better and improved. She’s able to score in double-teams right now. I thought Bree was really good tonight. When those two can play together, and Autumn can knock down a 15-footer, it’s going to make teams think twice about how they defend.”
Fasoula and Newby have been mainstays in the Commodore lineup, starting 28 combined games this season. Fasoula, who sat out the 2017-18 campaign after transferring from Boston College, leads the Dores in scoring (17.5 points per game) and rebounds (7.3 per game). Newby, the team’s leading returning rebounder from last season, chips in 8.7 points and 6.6 boards per game this year. Horrocks missed the first 10 games while dealing with blood clots but returned on Dec. 15 against Central Michigan. She averages 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds as a role player off the bench.
A native of Athens, Greece, Fasoula has quickly evolved into one of the best post players in the SEC. In her first season on the floor for Vanderbilt, she has now scored at least 20 points in seven of her last eight games. Now Fasoula credits her redshirt season at Vanderbilt as a chance to hone her skills away from game time.
“I think that year off helped me a lot,” Fasoula said. “The coaches made it an emphasis for me to get better. They showed confidence in me and believed in me, so that’s always a good thing when you play in the SEC.”
Vanderbilt’s bigs form a dangerous trio, but White said the Dores need to better complement their three post players. On Sunday, guards Jordyn Cambridge, LeaLea Carter, Kaleigh Clemons-Green and Cierra Walker shot a combined 6-for-23 (.261) to score just 19 points against Georgia.
“Anytime you have a player like Fas who can really go one-on-one against anybody in the country, it’s big,” White said. “Now we’ve got to find some consistency around her. If Autumn can continue to give us production consistently, that’s helpful. But it’s definitely going to get harder for them because the SEC has some of the best defensive coaches in the game.”
Fasoula, Horrocks and Newby should remain front and center as the Commodores seek their first SEC win. That journey begins anew on Thursday, when Vanderbilt hosts Texas A&M (7 p.m. CT on SEC Network+) at Memorial. But White likes the energy she is seeing from these Dores early in SEC play.
“This team is playing their butts off,” White said. “They’re competing, they’re playing hard and everyday we’re getting better. We’ve got to continue to challenge them to get more consistent. When we look at what we have, when we get production and strong minutes from different people, we’ve got a lot of pieces and we really haven’t put it together yet.
“It’s learning how to play in these moments and learning how to be consistent and bring it everyday. I think we’re closer, but at the same time, it’s got to be consistent.”
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.