The Auburn women’s basketball team concluded its season with a 75-68 loss to Alabama in the first round of the SEC Tournament. It was Auburn’s second consecutive opening round exit in the conference tournament.
The Tigers’ season concluded with a record of 10-18 in Johnnie Harris’ first season as head coach, an improvement over Auburn’s 5-19 record in the 2020-21 season.
Despite the disappointing finish to the season, Harris believes that her team showed improvement throughout the season and has much to be proud of.
"I'm really proud of how my team battled this season," Harris said. "Of course, we didn't end the way we wanted to end, but I felt like they battled. They gave me everything they had. It's a building season, but I thought we got better. We got better and better even though it may not have shown up in the wins and losses, but we have a lot to build on."
Honesty Scott-Grayson led the Tigers with 13 points and Annie Hughes scored 12, her best scoring output since scoring 13 against Florida on Feb. 14.
For Alabama, which improved to 16-12, Megan Abrams scored 25 points and Allie Craig Cruce, who came into Wednesday’s contest averaging just 1.7 points per game, scored a career-high 14 points and made four three-pointers. Additionally, Brittany Davis and JaMya Mingo-Young recorded double-doubles for the Crimson Tide.
It was yet another close game for the Tigers, who were 4-10 in games decided by single digits this season. Auburn had a three-point advantage going into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 25-15 in the frame.
Inconsistency at the free-throw line proved costly for Auburn, which shot just 50% from the charity stripe, making only 14 free throws in 28 attempts. The 14 missed free throws by Auburn were its most in a game this season.
Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide made 17 of their 24 free-throw attempts, a mark of just under 71%. The 17 makes included nine by Abrams in 11 attempts.
While Alabama faces Georgia in the second round of the SEC Tournament tomorrow, Auburn will turn its attention toward the future. It is a future which Harris believes is bright for Auburn women’s basketball.
"I feel like we built a foundation," Harris said. "We tried to put in our philosophy. I think that the kids that are coming back know what we want, so it was -- we were really inexperienced. We had some players that hadn't had any experience playing at this level. We had some with very limited experience playing at this level.”
Harris expects that her players will carry the lessons she has taught them on to next season.
"So when you think about that, this team, this is a resilient bunch of kids,” Harris said. “They bounce back time and time again, but I think they know now what to expect, so they know how to prepare. They know now how to take care of their bodies, so it's just a lot of little things that I think we've taught them that will carry over for next year."
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Matthew is a junior from Huntsville, Alabama majoring in journalism. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2021.