With a season debut that featured career-highs in scoring, Auburn failed to escape the second half in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Daisa Alexander led the Tigers with a career-high 19 points in Auburn’s 72-63 loss to Virginia Tech Monday night.
Despite a 56.3 shooting percentage in the first quarter, Auburn failed to match its efficiency shooting at the free-throw line.
“You can look at the free-throw line first,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We’re a much better free-throw shooting team than that. But we never gave up. The third quarter is what hurt us.”
After returning from halftime with a four-point lead, the Hokies outscored Auburn 9-20.
“You can’t let them score 20 and have us only score nine,” Williams-Flournoy said. “That gave them the momentum here at home.”
At the free-throw line, the Hokies made 15-of-22 (68.1 percent) while the Tigers went 12-for-26 (46.2 percent).
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Virginia Tech pulled ahead for the win with seven of their nine 3-pointers coming in the second half, with Taylor Emery leading the Hokies in scoring with 20 points.
Freshman Unique Thompson fell one point shy of a double-double in her collegiate debut, finishing with nine points and 16 rebounds. Her 16 rebounds are the most for Auburn since Tra’Cee Tanner had 19 against Florida Gulf Coast during the 2015-16 season.
In addition to Alexander’s 19-point performance, where she beat her previous career-high of seven, Alexander hit three 3-pointers and shot 43.75 percent.
“Throughout the offseason and the start of practice, we talked to [Alexander] and we knew she would have to step in,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I thought [Alexander] came in and did a great job for us attacking the basket.”
Janiah McKay added to Alexander’s total by finishing with 15 points, good for second on the team, and a team-high five assists.
Following its season-opening loss, Auburn will return to The Plains to play North Carolina A&T for the Tigers’ home opener on Thursday.
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