Down 53-39 to Indiana after three quarters, it appeared that Auburn was heading toward its second-consecutive non-conference loss after its loss to West Virginia on Thursday. Unlike that game, which was played in Savannah, Georgia, this loss would come in the confines of their own arena.
However, Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy and the Tigers just weren't having it. Auburn rode a 15-0 run in the final quarter to rally past the Hoosiers 71-67 on Sunday afternoon at Auburn Arena.
The Tigers (6-1) outscored the Hoosiers (4-2) 32-14 in the fourth quarter.
"Indiana's a very good team, so we had to make a lot of adjustments today, both offensively and defensively," Williams-Flournoy said. "But at the end of the day, you can't help but applaud my young ladies and the relentless effort that they had."
Auburn's dynamic senior duo of Brandy Montgomery and Katie Frerking, the team's leading scorers coming in, came up huge, combining for 49 of the Tigers 71 points. Montgomery had 28 points and 5 rebounds, while Frerking scored 21 with 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
"It really feels good knowing my teammates have confidence in me," Montgomery said. "I know I looked at Frerking going into the fourth quarter and said, 'We have to step up,' and that's exactly what we did. Our teammates followed right behind us and as seniors, that's what they expect from us."
Despite Montgomery and Frerking's production, Auburn's offense was frustrated by the Hoosier defense for most of the contest. However, the production of both the senior duo and the offense as a whole spiked in the fourth quarter when the Tiger defense forced Indiana into turnovers.
Auburn forced a season-low 20 turnovers, but scored a season-high 33 points off of those turnovers.
“They always tell us to do the effort plays first, play defense and then the offense will come," Frerking said. "I think that’s what you saw in the fourth quarter, and I think the majority of the steals we had came in the fourth quarter, and that’s when our offense kicked in.”
On the other end of the scoring and age spectrums, sophomore Erica Sanders only had 2 points on the day, but they came on perhaps the most crucial basket for the Tigers all game. Her short jumper gave her team a 65-63 lead, its first lead of the second half, with 59 seconds to go.
Auburn wouldn't relinquish the lead back to the Hoosiers from then on.
"I was screaming, 'No, no, not that shot! I mean, good shot! Good shot!'," Flournoy said about the game-changing basket while chuckling.
After Montgomery and Frerking scored 23 of the team's 30 points in the first half and the Tigers had a 1-point deficit, Indiana dominated the third quarter. The Hoosiers began the second half on a 17-2 run and outscored Auburn 22-9 during the period.
By the end of the game, though, Auburn's 46 percent shooting and opportunistic defense were just too much for the Hoosiers to overcome.
"To come back and win it, that's just incredible," Flournoy said.
Auburn will travel to Manhattan, Kansas, on Dec. 1 to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST.
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