Turnovers Spark Vandy Comeback at AU

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's women's basketball frustrations against No. 22-ranked Vanderbilt continued as the Commodores escaped Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum with a 57-53 comeback victory on Sunday.

Vandy stretched its winning streak vs. Auburn to 10 and took the lead in the all-time series with AU by a 17-16 margin.

The Tigers led by as much as 13 points in the first half and never trailed until the closing minutes. Vanderbilt took the lead at 52-51 with 4:01 to play on a three-pointer by Caroline Thomas on a fastbreak.

Nitasha Brown shoots a jumper.

Auburn regained the lead on a 10-foot baseline shot by Marita Payne with 2:10 to play to make it 53-52.

With 1:39 to play, Thomas, who led Vandy in scoring with 16 points, hit a pair of free throws to put the Commodores up by one.

Vandy got the ball back on an offensive foul call on Nitasha Brown with 1:13 to play.

AU got the ball back with another chance to take the lead, but DeWanna Bonner's shot was blocked. AU then fouled point guard Dee Davis with 14.8 seconds left. She missed the first and made the second, stretching the lead to 55-53.

Auburn called a timeout before putting the ball in play. The Tigers got a good look from the wing by Brown, but the senior guard missed a long-range pull-up jump shot and there were no rebounders in place for Auburn. Thomas hit two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to put away the victory.

Auburn coach Nell Fortner said that was not the final shot she wanted to see. "We didn't need to take a timeout to set that up," she said.

Fortner said the key to setback was the turnovers. "You are not going to beat anybody turning the ball over 23 times," she says.

On the plus side, Fortner said she liked the improvement of 6-7 freshman center Keke Carrier, who played a season-high 37 minutes. "She led all rebounders with 10 and added eight points and three blocked shots.

Auburn kept it close by blocking 11 Vandy shots with senior Marita Payne getting seven. However, Payne only got five shots in the game and finished with just six points and one rebound.

Auburn outshot Vandy 47.5 percent to 36.2 percent, but the Commodores got off 58 shots to 40 for the home team that as watched by a crowd of 1,572.

Vandy's coach said her team's pressure defense that forced many of the turnovers was the key to her team's comeback. "One of the most important things we did is that we became more aggressive," Melanie Balcomb said.

Brown led all scorers with 19 and she added three rebounds, five assists and two steals, but had seven of Auburn's 23 turnovers. Not taking care of the basketball was the difference in the game. Vandy had nine fewer turnovers than AU.

Bonner scored 14 points for the Tigers, but was in foul trouble much of the game and played 24 minutes.

Vandy improved to 5-4 in the SEC and 16-7 overall. Auburn fell to 12-10 overcall and 3-6 in the conference.

The close lose was more of the same for Auburn's seniors Payne and Brown, whose teams have lost their seven games vs. Vandy by an average of less than four points per contest.

Auburn is back in action on Thursday at 8 p.m. CST as South Carolina visits Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.


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