Following Wednesday's loss, Auburn found themselves back in the win column Thursday night after a career performance by sophomore Annie Hughes, as they defeated North Florida 94-81 inside Auburn Arena.
“I honestly feel that just yesterday, with so many people back and everybody trying to get back into a rhythm, we were just so out of sync,” said head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. “I’m glad to see us get back together today.”
The Tigers were down 9-1 early and found themselves lacking offensive efficiency similar to the Stephen F. Austin game's final minutes on Wednesday. Williams-Flournoy called a timeout to settle her team down, which resulted in a 27-7 scoring run for Auburn over the last seven minutes of the first quarter.
“Sometimes you have a tendency to look back instead of going forward,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I think they started to say ‘Oh no, not this again. Let’s just relax and let’s just play'.”
The charge was led by Jala Jordan, who surpassed her offensive performance from Wednesday’s game in the first ten minutes of Thursday’s game.
The Philly native led the team in first-quarter points with nine points, six of which came from downtown. She was relatively quiet offensively the remainder of the game until late in the fourth, when she hit a pair of free throws.
Jordan finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
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Auburn’s strong finish to the first quarter proved to be the deciding factor, as the Tigers outscored the Ospreys by only two points the remainder of the game.
Hughes kicked things off in the second quarter for Auburn with a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. It was just a preview of what was to come from the Dutton, Alabama, native.
“Coach told me what to do, and then I did it,” Hughes said. “She had all the confidence in the world in me tonight, and I could just hear it in her voice. That really propelled me to go just out there and have fun.”
The sophomore erupted against the Ospreys for a career night. She finished with a career-high 17 points and tied her career-high of seven rebounds in 31 minutes of action.
“I said, 'Annie, shoot the basketball,'" Williams-Flournoy said. “Annie works every single day. She’s there before practice, she’s there after practice. When you put in the work, you get the green light. And she has the green light.”
Hughes and Unique Thompson were at the top of the stat sheet with playing time, each with 31 minutes on the court. When having a performance like Hughes was having, the key to staying on the floor was simple.
“Just don’t act tired," Hughes said. "That’s what you have to do to stay on the floor, just don’t act tired and keep going. We get a lot of energy from our teammates. It’s just great to be out there fighting.”
Thompson added another double-double on the season by scoring 19 points and grabbing 18 rebounds.
It was her 48th career double-double and her fifth of the season. She played nine minutes in the fourth quarter, scoring eight of her 19 points in the final 10 minutes.
On Sunday, Coach Flo’s squad will play its make-up game against Belmont, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 8 but was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Auburn program.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CST inside Auburn Arena and will be Auburn’s fourth game in an eight-day stretch.
“Yesterday, we kind of felt that we gave the game away a little bit,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It was good coming in back-to-back, coming in and getting a good start.”
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