Auburn women’s basketball hosted the Alabama Crimson Tide to round out a busy weekend of sports on the Plains. Auburn ultimately fell 75-68 to the visiting Tide.
Auburn’s offense was led by Aicha Coulibaly and Honesty Scott-Grayson, with each player scoring 14. The pair played 38 and 31 minutes, respectively. Playing time was the ultimate downfall of the Tigers, who had three players with over 30 minutes and two in the high twenties.
Alabama had players with similar minutes, but the Tide also had scorers coming off the bench to offset that exhaustion. The Auburn bench contributed 19 points, outscored by an Alabama bench racking up 29.
“We probably got tired. We’ve got kids playing a lot of minutes. I tried to get them in and out, tried to use my time-outs to get them some breaks,” said head coach Johnnie Harris. “Offensively, we had a couple breakdowns where we didn’t execute down the stretch. Again, like I said, I’ll take credit for that.
“I just thought we made mental mistakes. We missed several offensive rebounds and then we missed some assignments with some switching, not talking, gave up a couple threes there that we worked on every day,” Harris said.
Alabama ended the game having gone 21-29 on free throws versus an Auburn 8-14 performance. Auburn held with the Tide on rebounding, finishing with 31 to Alabama’s 33, which indicates the game was evenly matched in other areas.
“I do feel like we are improving in aspects but I mean, as you can see, there’s a bunch of room left to grow,” said sophomore guard Sania Wells. “When it comes to us, I think it’s just finishing because the second half was not good for us and once we get better at finishing games, then we’ll be alright.”
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Auburn finished the first half shooting 45.2% on 31 shots from the field and brought that up to 52% on 25 shots in the second. Alabama shot only 40.7% in the first half on a similar 27 shots, increasing to 45.8% on 24 shots in the second half, over 6% less than the Tigers.
The ultimate determination came when Auburn led 63-62 after a Sania Wells jumper, which would be the last field goal Auburn made before closing out the game in a two-minute scoring drought.
The game’s total attendance was 4,196 and amounted to the third-largest women’s basketball crowd in Auburn Arena’s history.
Before the game and again at halftime, Auburn hosted a recognition ceremony for head coach Joe Ciampi, the winningest coach in Auburn basketball history. A banner was hung in the Auburn Arena rafters and players, family, friends, and staff were present to celebrate.
“That needed to be celebrated and we need to build upon that, so I talked to our administration and they gave the blessing,” said Harris. “It’s well deserved and long overdue.”
A alumni banquet and reception was held last night to allow players and coaches, old and new, to meet each other before the ceremony today.
“Just hearing them talk was a big inspiration. Then telling us what they’ve been through and how they did what they did really inspired us,” Wells said. “It was pretty cool process.”
The 8-8 Tigers return to Auburn Arena on Tuesday to face Kentucky, hoping to stop an 0-5 in-conference losing skid. The 48-hour turnaround may be tough for an Auburn team that stayed on the court for almost all of the game.
“The scout is already prepared, but we’ll work tonight and then we’ll put them through the scouting report,” Harris said. “We’ll have to be really smart about how hard we work them tomorrow so that we’ll have some legs.
“We’re in the SEC. We won’t make any excuses, so we’ll have to be ready to play,” Harris said.
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