Feb. 12, 2018
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn built a big early lead and held off a second-half surge by Vanderbilt to earn a 63-60 win in SEC women's basketball action Monday night at Auburn Arena.
The Tigers (13-11, 4-8 SEC) earned their second straight SEC victory and improved to 10-2 at home this season, but not without some anxious moments as Vanderbilt (6-20, 2-10) whittled down what had been a 20-point lead to just two in the waning moments of the game.
But sophomore Daisa Alexander scored five points in the final 52 seconds, including a clutch jumper with 19 seconds to play, and forced a turnover with less than five seconds left as Vanderbilt was driving for the tying bucket.
"We held on," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "We knew that Vandy was a 3-point shooting team. We knew our first goal was to defend the 3-point line, and we didn't do a great job when they made their run especially, but we held on. We kept fighting and we got the win."
Three players finished in double-figures for Auburn. Freshman Unique Thompson scored a game-high 16 points and, for the second straight game, missed a double-double by one rebound. Alexander added 12 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, and Janiah McKay finished with 11 and a team-leading five assists.
Tiffany Lewis had eight points, all in the first period, and Abigayle Jackson finished with seven.
Vanderbilt finished 9-of-26 from 3-point range (34.6%) and shot 41.9 percent (18-of-43) for the game. But the Tigers took 25 more shots than the Commodores, hitting 24-of-68 (35.3%), mostly thanks to 24 Vandy turnovers that turned into 21 Auburn points. Vanderbilt out-rebounded Auburn 39-30.
After Auburn took advantage of 15 first-half Vanderbilt turnovers to the tune of 18 points, the Tigers held a 41-24 lead at the break. The Tigers shot 47 percent in the opening half and held the Commodores, the SEC's top 3-point shooting team, to just nine made shots and three 3-pointers.
But Vanderbilt got hot early in the third, opening the period on an 11-0 run to cut the Auburn lead to six points at 41-35. Meanwhile, the Tigers went cold from the field, making just two field goals in the third quarter and shooting 20 percent in the second half.
A 49-43 lead after three quarters jumped back to 11 as Auburn opened the fourth on a 5-0 run. But as both teams struggled to score, Vandy chipped away, cutting the lead to two points at 58-56 on an Erin Whalen 3-pointer with just under a minute to play. The teams then mostly traded free throws down the stretch with Alexander scoring the Tigers' final five points.
With the Tigers leading 62-60 and spending their final timeout to advance the ball to the frontcourt with 6.5 seconds left, Auburn would turn it over on the throw-in. Whalen appeared to be driving for the tying basket, but Alexander sprinted down the court, stole the ball from Whalen and was fouled with 1.3 seconds left. She made one, and Vandy was unable to get a shot off at the buzzer.
Christa Reed led Vanderbilt with 16 points. Autumn Newby had a game-high 11 rebounds for the Commodores.
It will be the annual Play4Kay Pink Game on Thursday night as Auburn wraps up a three-game home stand, hosting No. 13 Missouri at 6 p.m. CT.