The Auburn Tigers (7-3) rode a 30-point fourth quarter to a 65-47 victory over Southern University Saturday night.
Janiah McKay, Jazmine Jones and Daisa Alexander all scored in double figures, but the star of the show was freshman forward Unique Thompson, who recorded 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Southern had the Tigers on the ropes most of the game, as Auburn struggled to hit shots located outside of the paint and struggled to keep control of the ball. The Tiger offense turned the ball over 14 times in the first half, but seemed to fix the struggles with only four turnovers after halftime.
Even with the struggles offensively, the suffocating Tiger defense was in usual form and forced 26 turnovers, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
“We knew it was going to be an ugly game with both teams forcing each other into turnovers,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “It came down to who could handle the pressure better, and who could score better off of the pressure.
“[In the first half] We were letting Southern rush us. We just needed to calm down. That’s what we do to people, we were letting Southern do to us what we do to other people.”
The Tigers did not have success from deep once again going 0-of-5 from three, and scored the majority of their points down low with 42 of their 65 points coming in the paint.
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After shooting a catastrophic 29.6 percent from the field in the first half, the Tigers turned it around and shot 59.4 in the second and proved too much for Southern.
Needing a spark with a slight lead in the fourth quarter, Thompson took over for the Tigers, scoring 10 of her 18 points in the fourth and created the spark Auburn needed to pull away for good.
“I realized that we needed a spark,” Thompson said. “I decided to step up and take the energy and my team joined in with me.”
Thompson recorded her second straight double-double and seems to be hitting her stride.
“I just realized that I need to play as hard as I can every game,” Thompson said. “I just have to do what I do best, and I found my rhythm again after being out with my ankle.”
Star guard Janiah McKay did go down early with an apparent ankle injury, but returned after sitting for some time. McKay struggled to find a rhythm offensively after the injury.
“We took her out a little bit, and it made her a little tentative. Janiah can’t play tentative. She plays at one speed going 100 miles per hour,” Flournoy said.
The Tigers will take on Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 19 in the Auburn Arena.
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