March 8, 2009

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Christina Wirth scored 20 points, and No. 22 Vanderbilt beat No. 6 Auburn 61-54 to win the Southeastern Conference tournament Sunday night.

The Commodores (24-8) upset the Tigers (29-3) for the second time in three weeks to win the SEC tournament for the sixth time. Vanderbilt also extended its winning streak over Auburn to 15 - and in a season when so much has gone right for the Tigers.

Auburn star DeWanna Bonner was held to nine points after scoring a combined 58 in her first two games of the tournament. Whitney Boddie led the Tigers with 14.

Vanderbilt trailed 6-0 early on but rallied to go ahead 31-21 at halftime. Auburn came as close as three on an acrobatic three-point play by the 6-foot-4 Bonner, but Merideth Marsh calmly made a 3-pointer to make it 52-46, and Tia Gibbs was left alone for another 3 that put the Commodores up 55-48.

Vanderbilt missed its first eight shots of the game, but Auburn missed an early opportunity to pull away, never leading by more than six. The Commodores shut down the Tigers with their zone defense, holding Boddie scoreless and Bonner to four points in the first half.

Vandy gained confidence as the half progressed, finishing it with a 16-5 run that included one possession in which the Auburn defense broke down so badly there was nobody within about a dozen feet of Gibbs as she sank a 3-pointer.

Wirth was named the tournament's most valuable player. Vanderbilt has the second-most SEC tournament titles of any program, trailing only Tennessee's 13.

Auburn was coming off a 78-58 win over Tennessee in the semifinals, the most lopsided loss for the Lady Vols in an SEC tournament. The Tigers were smothered by Vandy, however.

The Commodores also beat Auburn 73-70 on Feb. 19.

Bonner was hardly a factor in the title game, and her night was summed up by her last shot, a desperation heave from way behind the 3-point line in the final seconds.

Vanderbilt shot 10-of-28 from 3-point range. Auburn went 0-for-7 and was held to its lowest point total of the season.