Before Thursday’s game against No. 16 Arkansas, Auburn honored its 2021 senior class with a presentation at midcourt for senior night. The lone senior on the team, a 6-foot-3 forward from Theodore, Alabama, was greeted at midcourt by head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy.
The senior taking the court in Auburn Arena for the final time was Unique Thompson.
“It’s sad,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I’m losing Unique Thompson. But you have to be extremely happy for her. Her career at Auburn has been unbelievable. She’s in the record books. You’re going to take nothing away from her double-doubles. She’s a great teammate, but more importantly, she’s been the epitome of a student-athlete. She’s been one of the best kids I’ve had to coach in the years I’ve been here.”
Despite her 57th career double-double in her Auburn Arena finale, Thompson and the Tigers could not pull off the upset against the No. 16 Razorbacks, losing 74-69. The Tigers had a 10 point lead in the third, but a 27 point fourth-quarter rally led the Razorbacks to the win.
“I thought we gave it everything we could tonight,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I can’t take anything from my team tonight. They played extremely hard.”
Thompson finished her night with 22 points and 18 rebounds. While the Tigers might not have walked away with a win, it was not because of a lack of effort on senior night.
“They know how important it is,” Williams-Flournoy said of the team. “I continue to tell them, ‘When you’re a senior, you want someone to play as hard for you, not just senior night but that whole year. But especially on senior night, because one day you will be a senior and you’ll remember this.”
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Thompson has led the team in rebounding every season since she arrived on the Plains in 2017. She holds the program record for career double-doubles with 57 and the program record for career rebounds with 1,141.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that I gave everything I had my four years,” Thompson said. “I have support from everyone around me. My teammates, my family, my coaches, literally everybody that’s rooting for me. It’s just a good feeling knowing I’m making them proud.”
It was a battle in the first, with Arkansas and Auburn exchanging the lead four times in the first 10 minutes. Aicha Coulibaly was responsible for half of Auburn's 10 first-quarter points, scoring five. She finished the night with 10 points.
The Tigers trailed 14-10 after the first.
Arkansas’ offense opened the second quarter on an 8-2 run, extending its lead to double digits just over two minutes into the quarter. Trailing 22-12 with under eight minutes to go in the half, Auburn gained some momentum off of Alaina Rice’s layup with an and-one attempt.
It was the spark of offense that the Tigers needed.
Rice’s layup initiated an 18-7 Auburn run to close out the half. The Tigers took a 30-29 lead into halftime.
Midway through the third and already on an 8-2 run, Sania Wells knocked down a triple, giving Auburn its largest lead of the night at 10 points.
It was a career night for Wells, who finished her evening with a career-high 12 points.
The Razorbacks slashed the Auburn lead in half by the time the quarter had closed and trailed by five going to the fourth.
Arkansas’ Makayla Daniels led her team back, though, scoring nine of the team’s 27 fourth-quarter points. The Razorback rally slowly chipped away at the Auburn lead before Arkansas grabbed the lead with just over four minutes to go.
Auburn never reclaimed the lead, and the Razorbacks headed back to Fayetteville with a win, sweeping the Tigers in the regular-season series. While Thompson called it a ‘bittersweet’ feeling, there were no regrets about her career.
“Whenever I look back on my years here, I can honestly say I did give it everything I had,” Thompson said. “I don’t have any regrets. Even though my senior season isn’t going the way I wanted to, I wouldn’t do anything else differently. I still cherish this year and it has taught me a lot.”
Auburn finishes out its regular season on Sunday, traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee, to face the No. 20 Volunteers. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. CST with the game airing on SEC Network.
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