By David Dawson
NASHVILLE -- The Vanderbilt women couldn't stop -- or even slow down -- Auburn's Jazmine Jones on Thursday night in the Commodores' final home game of the season.
Jones, who came into the night averaging 2.5 points per game, went 10-of-11 from the floor while scoring a game-high 21 points to lead the last-place Tigers to a 70-58 victory over the Commodores at Memorial Gym. Jones also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds and had three steals.
The Tigers (11-17, 2-13) have now won two straight games after opening SEC play with 13 straight losses. Auburn has also won two in a row against Vanderbilt after losing 21 consecutive games in the series prior to last season's win at Memorial Gym.
Auburn's Brandy Montgomery finished with 16 points and Katie Frerking had 13 points and seven rebounds. Marqu'es Webb led Vanderbilt with 13 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 2:20 to play. Freshman Rachel Bell added 13 points and fellow freshman Paris Kea had 12.
The Commodores came into the night hoping to improve their seeding for next week's SEC Tournament. Instead, they are now likely headed for the play-in round of the tournament after losing for the sixth time in the past eight games.
"I don't know how we can play so well at times ... and then other times have no idea what (we) are doing," said Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb. "We're just extremely inconsistent. I thought we had it figured out, but we are incapable, right now, of sticking to a game plan for 40minutes."
Auburn's Jones was the night's biggest story. She was averaging just 1.6 points per game in SEC play, but she looked like an all-conference player in this contest. Coming off the bench, she went 5-of-5 from the floor in the first half, then scored 11 more points -- and pulled down eight of her nine rebounds -- in the second half.
For Vanderbilt, Webb, Kea and Bell combined for 38 points while going 14-of-24 from the floor. But their efforts weren't enough to enable the Commodores to overcome 21 turnovers.
"It's tough," said Balcomb. "I can't find five players to communicate together, work together."
Vanderbilt owned an 11-point lead just past the midway mark of the first half, but the Tigers put together a 21-6 run -- which started with seven straight points by Montgomery -- to carry a 30-26 lead into the half.
Auburn maintained the lead throughout the final 20 minutes, holding off a late Vanderbilt rally. Back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman Rachel Bell enabled the Commodores to pull within 61-56 with 2:42 to go, but the comeback bid stalled there.
"When they started making a run (in the first half), we kind of broke down," said junior Morgan Batey about the Commodores, who close the regular season with a trip to Tennessee on Sunday."That's where we've been struggling all season, so we have to get better at that. We have to focus on getting stops and getting ourselves back into the game because too many times we just let their runs go on, and we aren't able to stop it."
For Vanderbilt, Kea was a bright spot. She used an series of strong drives to score her 12 points, and finished with four assists and two steals while playing a team-high 31 minutes. She was 5-of-6 from the floor and had two rebounds.
"Tonight Paris was Paris," said Balcomb. "She played great. She was smart. She handled the ball with pressure. ... She played as well as you expect a freshman to play under that kind of pressure all night."
Vanderbilt endured a cold-shooting performance from 3-point range, finishing just 4-of-17 (23.5 percent). Vanderbilt's leading scorer Rebekah Dahlman was limited to four points and finished 1-of-8 from 3-point range.