After coming back from a double-digit deficit against South Alabama on Sunday, the magic wasn’t there for Auburn on Wednesday night. The Tigers fell for the second time this season and first time at home, 67-54 to Stephen F. Austin inside Auburn Arena.
“I thought we came out with low intensity,” head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We were excited to play, we were ready to play. I just think we need to start the game with a better sense of urgency.”
Auburn opened the game with a pair of offensive bursts, quickly jumping out to a 6-0 lead. Honesty Scott-Grayson, Annie Hughes and Unique Thompson all contributed in the run, before Stephen F. Austin pushed back with its own burst of offense. The Ladyjacks tied the game at 9-9 with 3:20 left in the first before the Tigers went on their second offensive burst.
A 7-0 run over 1:02 was led by redshirt sophomore Jala Jordan, who scored five of the seven points. She finished the night with eight points and two rebounds in 12 minutes.
Every time the Tigers were able to cushion their lead, the Ladyjacks chipped away and shot themselves right back into the game.
Stephen F. Austin’s offense came to life in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 15-10. Within the final 2:28 of the half, the Ladyjacks knocked down three 3-pointers, closing the half on an 11-4 scoring run. The teams headed into the half locked in a standstill at 27 points each.
Out of the locker rooms, the Ladyjacks garnered their first lead of the game off of Marissa Banfield’s 3-pointer. Stephen F. Austin’s lead grew as large as seven in the third before the Tigers rallied to tie the game on an 8-1 run to finish out the quarter.
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Despite only making two shots from the field over the final five minutes of the third quarter, Auburn had tied the game at 45 by the end of the quarter. The Tigers did so by getting to the free-throw line, where they were a perfect eight-of-eight in the third. All eight of which came in the final 2:16 of the quarter, by three different Tigers.
A pair of layups by Stephen F. Austin to start the final 10 minutes put some pressure on the Tigers before Scott-Grayson had the Auburn bench erupting in cheer. The transfer was physical, driving to the basket and getting three straight and-one opportunities to open the fourth.
She was the lone Tiger to score in the first five minutes of the fourth, outscoring the entire Stephen F. Austin team 7-6 within that span.
“I thought [Scott-Grayson] did a very good job of keeping us alive and keeping us in the game,” Williams-Flournoy said. “She did it by attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line.”
However, the Ladyjacks closed out the game from the charity stripe, where they shot 12 free throws in the final 2:46 of the game. Eleven of the 12 fell through the net. Stephen F. Austin outscored Auburn 22-9 in the final ten minutes, the highest-scoring quarter for any team on the night.
“It didn’t seem like we were moving on the flight of the ball,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It seemed like we were just a step late, and you can’t be a step late with a team that was shooting. Defensively, we were just a step slow.”
The Ladyjacks finished the game on a 16-2 run, shooting 5-of-13 from the field and 11-of-13 from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Tigers' offense went cold, with Sania Wells’ jumper with 4:30 remaining being the only Auburn points in the final five minutes.
Auburn will be back to work on Thursday to complete back-to-back games as it faces North Florida at 6 p.m. CST from Auburn. However, while playing back-to-back nights presents challenges for Auburn, it gives the Tigers a chance to fix some issues from the night before.
“When you lose, it gives you a chance to go back and play instead of practicing,” Williams-Flournoy said. “You hope that they go back and play harder. It gives us another opportunity to go and play another game.”
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