Auburn women's basketball traveled to Nevada to fit in some games during the Thanksgiving break, splitting its games at the Las Vegas Invitational. In game one, the Tigers fell to top-ten Indiana, but then rallied to take down Colorado State the next night.
The Tigers return to Neville Arena at 4-2, ready to wrap up non-conference play before SEC games begin in late December.
Game 1 vs Indiana
Unable to come out with the win, the No. 5 Indiana Hoosiers (6-0) achieved their first win of the Las Vegas Invitational, defeating the Auburn Tigers (3-2) 96-81. Indiana's offense dominated the court while Auburn's defense tried to keep up. Although they lost, the Tigers' offense trailed close behind the Hoosiers' until the fourth quarter, when Indiana extended its lead.
"I was a little disappointed in some of the undisciplined plays that we made, but for the most part, I thought our kids battled," said head coach Johnnie Harris. "And that's what I want them to do. I wanted them to battle and have a chance at the end, and I thought they did that."
Indiana's offensive drives were more effective than Auburn's, which were most noticeable in its high field goal and free throw percentage. Auburn shot 42% (29-69) from the field compared to Indiana's 54% (33-61). Despite the loss, the shooting percentage was a season-best for the Tigers.
Free throws are essential for any basketball team's success and Indiana had a great night at the free-throw line. At the line, the Hoosiers' had a strong 88% (22-25) compared to the Tigers' 63% (15-24). Turnovers were another problem for Auburn. The Tigers' had 14 turnovers compared to the Hoosiers' 12, but Auburn managed to capitalize and score 15 points from 11 Indiana turnovers.
Despite those issues in some areas of the game, Auburn bested Indiana at the three-point line. The Tigers shot 40% from behind the arc, making eight of the 20 shots taken while the Hoosiers had 35%, making eight of 23 shots.
Offensively, Auburn's junior Aicha Coulibaly and redshirt senior Honesty Scott-Grayson led the team with 22 points. Freshman Sydney Shaw and junior Precious Johnson followed with eight. Leading the Tigers, Scott-Grayson made eight field goals as Coulibaly trailed behind with seven. The redshirt senior continued to lead the Auburn offense with four three-point field goals as the young Shaw made two.
Coulibaly aided the offense by making eight of 11 free throws as freshman Kaitlyn Duhon helped, going 2-2 in her trips the free throw line. On defense, Scott-Grayson led with six rebounds as Johnson followed with five.
For Indiana, senior Mackenz Holmes led its offense with 26 points, while freshman Yarden Garzon trailed behind with 21 points. Holmes had a phenomenal night, going 10-for-10 on field goals, 6-for-6 on free throws, and ended the game with 12 rebounds. Following Holmes' strong lead, Garzon had 47% (8-17) on field goals, 57% (4-7) for three-point field goals, and was 1-1 at the free throw line.
Game 2 vs Colorado State
In a game that went through eight ties and 18 lead changes, Scott-Grayson's clutch shooting made the difference for the Tigers. With one second remaining in the game, her made free throw gave Auburn a 74-73 lead to take down Colorado State.
“I thought our team took our mistakes from the last game and corrected them,” Auburn head coach Johnnie Harris said. “In film session and shootaround today, I thought we corrected some things. They came out with energy and with a determination. I saw growth of my team today, and that’s what I wanted to see. I saw some people really step up. Really pleased with not just the win but how we won the game.”
Coulibaly and Scott-Grayson ended their nights with 16 points apiece, with Coulibaly also adding a team-best five assists. Sydney Shaw and Sania Wells scored nine points apiece.
McKenna Hofschild led Colorado State with 21 points, and Sydney Mech added 15.
Scott-Grayson's shot was important out of context, but it also came after almost an hour of delays due to an injured player. Auburn's Kharyssa Richardson went down after going for a loose ball and was assisted by trainers but unable to be moved from the court until paramedics arrived. After 55 minutes, she was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.
“She was alert, she was responsive to everything, so I really believe it’s precautionary,” Harris said. “We’re going to make sure she’s OK.”
The freshman forward posted on Twitter later in the night that she was feeling better and was excited about being able to go home. Despite leaving the game, Richardson was Auburn's leading rebounder with nine.
Returning to the court trailing one points after that delay, the Tigers went on a 6-0 scoring run with shots from Jakayla Johnson, Coulibaly and Duhon to take a 71-66 lead. The Rams were able to tie the game with 27 seconds left, but Scott-Grayson was fouled grabbing a rebound and made one of her two free throws to give Auburn a win.
Both teams were shooting about the same, but Auburn won the rebounding battle 31-25 and turned 13 CSU turnovers into 12 points. The Tigers shot 46% on 59 shots, with the Rams shooting 47% on 51 shots.
Returning home from their trip, the Tigers have a few days of practice before they play Little Rock on Nov. 30. The game with air on SECNetwork+ and tipoff at noon CST.
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Caitlyn Griffin is a freshman from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism. She started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.