The Auburn defense dominated, freshman point guard Janiah McKay scoring a game-high 15 points and the Auburn Tigers moved to .500 on the season with a 65-53 home-opening win over North Carolina A&T Thursday night.
This win is the 900th win by Auburn women’ basketball as a program, which puts Auburn in the top 20 for all-time NCAA wins in D-1 women’s hoops.
Auburn executed proficiently on both sides of the ball, most notably defense. Their full-court press gave the A&T Aggies fits, only allowing the Aggies to shoot 35 percent from the field, and 30 percent from beyond the arc.
“We really like to force live ball turnovers, because it becomes a beautiful thing to watch this team in transition” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said.
The Tigers executed well, outrebounding A&T 44-27, with a 26 to 19 advantage in defensive rebounds. The Aggies were also only allowed to lead for 58 seconds of the game, after strong 3-point shooting late in the second quarter by the A&T guards.
The lead was quickly stifled and Auburn went on a 7-1 scoring run to close out the first half, going into the locker room up 31-24.
In the first quarter, the Tigers limited the Aggies to a 25 percent shooting percentage, only allowing three made shots with no free throws. Strong scoring moves down low by Jazmine Jones and huge rebounding on the other side of the court propelled Auburn to a 16-6 first quarter lead.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers played extremely well inside the arc, shooting 41 percent, with three players (Thompson, McKay, Alexander) all in double figures. 38 of the teams 63 points (60 percent of the scoring) came in the paint.
In the second and third quarters alone, the Tigers shot well in both. Jazmine Jones and Jessica Jones each shot over 60 percent from the field respectively, with Jazmine shooting at 80 percent.
“The first thing I always look at is bench points. We had 17 points off the bench," Williams-Flournoy said. "There are two things where we are doing better this year, than we did last year: rebounding… and bench points. Those two are really going to help us going down the road.”
The powerful play down low sent Auburn to the free throw line 16 times, with numerous fouls coming from A&T on contested rebounds. Free points like those helped Auburn obtain and maintain a steady lead throughout the game, their largest lead being 18 points.
However, the Tigers did struggle in the turnover and 3-point shooting categories. On the night, the Tigers had 22 turnovers, five committed by guard McKay, tied for a game high. The 3-point shooting was exceptionally poor with a 22 percent shooting percentage on the game, shooting as low as 1-7 (14 percent) in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers look to continue their winning ways on a quest for their third-straight NCAA tournament appearance on Nov. 19 vs. Louisiana Tech.