Auburn women’s hoops fell 66-73 to No.14 South Carolina in its last home game of the season. The Tigers fought it out to the bitter end, multiple players scored in double digits and Unique Thompson recorded another double-double.
South Carolina bolted ahead with a 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the game. These scoring opportunities all came from baseline cuts. The Tigers couldn’t seem to stop South Carolina’s aggressive run and gun style of play. Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy called a time out in an effort to stop the bleeding.
From then on Auburn loaded the box and refused to let anyone drive in the paint. South Carolina’s response was to simply shoot over them. Bianca Cuevas-Moore knocked down two deep threes to extend the lead. Auburn trailed 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.
“We just didn’t play defense,” Williams-Flournoy said. “The shots we gave up were ridiculous.”
The Tigers turned to Janiah McKay and Thompson to create opportunities under the basket. This duo scored all of Auburn’s first-quarter points. The start of the second quarter was night and day for this Auburn team. The Tigers locked in on defense after giving up a quick basket to kick things off, they held the Gamecocks scoreless for the next five minutes.
Auburn’s offense fed off of irs defense, turning steals into scores. A whirlwind of fouls, however, against Auburn put key players McKay and Primm into foul trouble. Auburn fans were ready to tear the roof off of the arena after an over-and-back call against Thompson.
The Tigers appeared to be out of character; they were being dominated defensively and were relying heavily on McKay. She had 11 points before halftime. The Tigers showed signs of life and went on a 6-0 run, with D’asia Alexander and Erin Howard making back-to-back 3s to end the half. The half ended with the Tigers trailing 24-33.
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The Tigers started the second-half hot going on a quick 5-0 run. Alexander, who was 1-for-10 in shooting during the first half, came out and scored seven straight points in the first two minutes. This offensive display had the Tigers riding high
The defense isolated and double-teamed South Carolina’s Doniyah Cliney. The senior guard had double-digit scoring with 10 points in the first half. Auburn gave her nothing in the third quarter. Auburn had Thompson, McKay and Alexander firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball.
However, they could never close in on the Gamecocks' lead, until Crystal Primm woke up. With two minutes left in the third quarter Primm found herself open under the basket. She took that opportunity and ran with it. Primm knocked down her first shot, then another and another. Before South Carolina could call a timeout, Primm had scored a quick six and the score board read 42-45 Gamecocks. Headed into the fourth quarter Auburn was facing its smallest deficit since the first 40 seconds of the game.
The fourth quarter started with the Thompson show. The Auburn forward went up to the line and knocked down three pivotal free-throws, one of which capped off a 3-point play at the line to tie the game up. The score board read 47-47 and the Tigers had made the comeback.
Alexander popped the three that put the Tigers on top 50-48, their first lead of the night. Then Alexis Jennings and Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan took over. The two shooters lead South Carolina’s 11-0 run and scored a combined 20 points in the fourth quarter.
“In the second and third quarter we had defensive stops,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We can’t win a basketball game giving up 28 points in the fourth quarter.”
With both teams in the bonus and no way to stop South Carolina’s offense the Auburn defense was left with no choice but to foul and pray. The Tiger’s prayers fell on deaf ears however, as the Gamecocks ended the game shooting 24-for-30 from the free throw line.
This wasn’t a bad loss for the Auburn. The Tigers had four players with double-digit scoring nights, including McKay’s 21-point performance. The game may not have been the marquee win the Tigers needed, but it certainly prepared them for the type of competition they will see in the SEC Tournament.
“No team is going to want to see us in the tournament,” McKay said. “We’re coming back with a vengeance, because I refuse to let this be how the SEC remembers Auburn.”
Auburn (20-8, 8-7) will close out its season with a road games against LSU (16-10, 7-7) on Sunday at 2 p.m. CST.
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