Auburn sophomore Unique Thompson had her seventh double-double of the season but Auburn fell short 78-69 to No. 10 Tennessee Thursday evening in the SEC opener for both teams at Auburn Arena.
Auburn (12-2, 0-1 in SEC) struggled getting shots to fall, even with having twenty more attempts than Tennessee (12-1, 1-0 in SEC). However, Tennessee shot 54 percent from the field to secure the win late.
"I thought we made some good runs to stay in the game," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "If we would have made a few more shots, we definitely could have won the game. We forced them into 23 turnovers. But one thing, we didn't score off those turnovers like we have been doing in our past games."
Thompson put up 19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 36 minutes. All of Auburn’s five starters scored in double digits. Daisa Alexander had 13 points, Crystal Primm put up 16 and Janiah McKay added 10.
Freshman Erin Howard had a career-high 11 points and three 3-pointers along with four rebounds in her first career start replacing the injured senior Emari Jones.
The Tigers forced Tennessee to turn the ball over 23 times but was only able to score 20 points off them. Neither bench was effective – Auburn’s was held scoreless and Tennessee’s was only able to generate three points from their bench. Tennessee also out-rebounded Auburn 43-29.
The game had eight ties and nine lead changes; the biggest lead was five until the closing minutes of the game. Thompson was unstoppable in the first half scoring 13 points with eight rebounds and at halftime the score was all tied up 35-35.
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The Lady Vols went on a 9-3 run over the final four minutes of the third to take a 58-50 lead going into the fourth. The Tigers responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Howard in less than a minute to force a Tennessee timeout and cut the lead to two.
Tennessee would get the lead back to five but Auburn went on a 6-0 run with some quick buckets from Primm and took a 62-61 lead with 5:41 left to play. The Lady Vols wouldn’t trail from that point on and went on a 9-2 run over the next three minutes.
Auburn’s shooting was off tonight, going 34.3 percent from the field, the second-lowest total on the season, while Tennessee shot 54 percent along with a 7-for-15 mark (46.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
Tennessee’s Meme Jackson led all players in points with 27, going 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. Rennia Davis added 23 points and 14 rebounds.
Auburn takes a road trip for its next two SEC games, heading to Gainesville first to take on the Florida Gators at 12 p.m. CST on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.
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