As the weather outside gets colder, the Auburn offense is heating up inside Auburn Arena. The Tigers continued their unbeaten season on Tuesday night with a season-high in points, defeating Gardner-Webb 97-61.
Auburn lived in the paint offensively, where 62 of the Tigers’ 97 points went down. After shooting 7-of-25 from beyond the arc against Samford on Saturday, the Tigers only attempted 11 threes against Gardner-Webb.
“We have an inside presence with both Unique Thompson and Jala Jordan,” head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We’ve got young ladies that have wonderful pull-ups. I just told them ‘Stop trying to drive all the way to the basket, just pull up and take your shots.'”
Gardner-Webb opened the scoring with a 3-point shot by Alasia Smith, but it was all Auburn after that. The Tigers went on a 24-3 scoring run in the first, led by senior Unique Thompson and sophomores Annie Hughes and Honesty Scott-Grayson.
The trio combined for 21 of Auburn’s 28 first-quarter points and each finished with season-highs in scoring. Hughes ended her night with six points, Scott-Grayson with 14 and Thompson with 21 on her way to recording her 44th career double-double.
One thing this Auburn offense has been able to do all season has been to go on scoring runs when needed or to close out a quarter. Despite a quick offensive burst by Gardner-Webb to start the second quarter, Auburn shut it down and finished the quarter on its own 13-3 scoring run.
This gave the Tigers a 49-28 halftime lead, the most points they had scored before the half this season.
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The offensive success can be attributed to the depth and defensive pressure of this year’s team. It forced 24 turnovers in the 36-point win and is averaging 23.3 forced turnovers per game on the season. Auburn scored a season-high 25 points off turnovers Tuesday.
“We were working really hard on the defensive end and we were forcing turnovers, but we weren’t getting anything off of it,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I thought today what we did was we attacked when we got a steal. Before we were slow a little bit, but this time we really got steals and looked to attack the basket.”
Five different Tigers found themselves scoring in double figures, including Jordan, Aicha Coulibaly and Keya Patton. The team is spreading the ball out, scoring 43 points off the bench and showing confidence in their teammates to start the season.
“We all love playing with each other, we all love supporting each other,” Patton said. “Whether I’m in or out, as long as what coach is expecting is being done, I’m perfectly fine.”
It was much of the same in the second half as it was in the first half. Dominance on both sides of the court by the Tigers. They outscored Gardner-Webb 48-33 over the final 20 minutes of play.
Now 3-0, the Tigers turn their attention to Houston on Saturday to try and advance to 4-0 for the first time since 2016.
“The players are having a great time,” coach Flo said. “You can just see everybody from the bench, starters, everybody contributed and played hard. These are the types of games that you like.”
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