The 2019 Auburn women’s basketball team wasn’t a traditional Auburn team. They struggled defensively all season long.
Since arriving at Auburn, head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy has put an emphasis on being a defensive-minded team.
In 2020, with a roster filled with newcomers, it looked more like a Williams-Flournoy team.
In their season opener, the Tigers took down USC Upstate 82-41.
Auburn started off strong, jumping out to a commanding 16-0 lead before allowing USC Upstate to get on the board.
“I just went in there [locker room] and told them they were a joy to coach tonight,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I love the effort that they were playing with. The energy and it was such a unique situation the way we were set up; the bench, trying to talk to everybody but I thought everyone was so engaged and into the game.”
The Tigers didn’t let up from there, increasing their lead to over 30 points in the second quarter and ending the game doubling USC Upstate’s score.
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One of the lone returning players for Auburn, Unique Thompson, didn’t have her usual double-double, but still played a large part for Auburn in the win. She finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Thompson was also the first player to get on the board for Auburn, scoring the first six points for the Tigers.
“Yeah, anytime you can start with Unique Thompson setting the tone, what better way to start a basketball game,” Williams-Flournoy said.
Jala Jordan and Honesty Scott-Grayson, both players who sat out 2019 due to NCAA transfer rules, also played a big role for Auburn.
Jordan matched Thompson's point total, scoring 16 points while shooting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and 5-of-9 overall from the field.
“You can definitely tell that Jala appreciated the opportunity,” Williams-Flournoy said. “She didn’t play much at West Virginia, she had to sit out last year, and she came in and she’s ready to play this year.”
Scott-Grayson had seven points, shooting 3-of-6 from the field.
As for the players entirely new to the roster, several chipped in to help lead the Tigers.
Romi Levy, a freshman from Israel, had eight points while shooting 2-of-4 from deep and adding three rebounds and two assists.
Keya Patton, a JUCO transfer, added six points and five rebounds.
With so many newcomers, the team-leader Thompson noticed some first-game jitters, but as the game went on the newcomers settled in.
“I just knew my teammates kept saying how nervous they were so I just knew that I could come in and just take the edge off a little bit,” Thompson said.
As for improvements, Williams-Flournoy says that while the defense played well, the team needs to continue to work on defensive communication moving forward.
Auburn's next game comes Saturday at 12 p.m. CST inside Auburn Arena against Samford.
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