Commodores Suffer Close Loss to Auburn

NASHVILLE – An off-balance three-pointer by Auburn’s Robyn Benton in the closing seconds doomed Vanderbilt’s chances to claim a win in Southeastern Conference play, as the Commodores fell 72-70 in Memorial Gym on Thursday night.
The Commodores built a 20-point advantage early in the third quarter, but allowed Auburn to steadily clip away at the deficit. The Tigers earned their first lead with 1:04 left, only to lose the edge when Vanderbilt forward Autumn Newby scored on a running layup with :17 left. 
Benton, who scored eight points, produced the game-winner on an off-balance basket from the foul line.
The Commodores had one last chance to send the game into overtime, but Newby’s jumper at the buzzer was off the mark.
The Commodores wasted a career outing by junior guard Cierra Walker, who produced 25 points, including 19 before intermission. Walker also knocked down a career-high eight three-pointers.
Forward Lealea Carter and center Mariella Fasoula added 14 and 12 points, respectively. Newby grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Commodores lost despite shooting 61 percent from the field (25-of-41) and 69.2 percent from three-point range (9-of-13).
The Commodores, who had just seven available players with injuries keeping Chelsie Hall, Brinae Alexander and Jordyn Cambridge out of uniform, fell to 6-12 overall, and 0-5 in SEC action. Auburn improves to 15-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference.
Vanderbilt jumped out to a 42-29 lead at intermission and widened the advantage to 20 points at 49-29 in the third quarter before Auburn started its rally with full-court pressure defense.
The Commodores are off until Thursday, Jan. 24 when they host Ole Miss in Memorial Gym.