Auburn women’s basketball started its regular season off in the right direction as they took down Sam Houston 90-76 Tuesday night.
Harris’s starters included freshmen Kaitlyn Duhon, Sydney Shaw, and Kharyssa Richardson alongside returning starters senior Honesty Scott-Grayson and junior Aicha Coulibaly.
However, Auburn was without the help of junior forward Romi Levy and junior center Precious Johnson.
Coulibaly led the team in both points and rebounds with 24 points and 10 rebounds, claiming her first double-double of the regular season. She was 10-15 from the field and 3-3 from behind the free throw line. Following close behind in rebounds were Duhon and Richardson with 8 and 7, respectively.
Auburn’s defense was strong and active throughout the game as it forced 33 Sam Houston turnovers and tallied up 13 steals. Scott-Grayson led the charge with five steals. The Tigers were able to score a total of 31 points off turnovers alone.
“I thought we got a lot off of our defense which was the key, said head coach Johnnie Harris. “Coming in right now we want to impose our will, we want to score off our defense and I think they’re doing a really good job forcing 33 turnovers to a veteran squad.”
Offensively, the Tigers were just as aggressive and took control in the paint, scoring 50 points in the paint alone and ending with an overall scoring percentage of 48.3. In addition, they shot 80% from the free throw line. Along with Coulibaly, top scorers included Shaw, Scott-Grayson, and senior Sania Wells, who all finished the night with 12 points each.
“I thought our kids fought. They battled, you know. We talked about being hard-nosed, tough, physical, and aggressive and I thought they were that," Harris said. "They would make mistakes, yes, but because we were tough and physical and aggressive, we made up for some of that.”
In the first quarter, Scott-Grayson and sophomore Mar’shaun Bostic led the pack with six points each. Sam Houston was able to stick around for a while as Auburn only led by four at the end of the first; however, the Tigers would soon take a lead that Sam Houston could never recover.
In the second quarter, the Auburn defense came in strong, forcing 10 turnovers in the quarter for a total of 17 for the half. Auburn closed the first half with a 14-3 run to take an 11-point lead.
Richardson started off the third hot with a quick layup with an assist from Scott-Grayson to set the tone for the second half. Coulibaly led the offense, scoring 12 points in the quarter.
The Tigers continued to stay aggressive into the fourth. The quarter started with a two-point jumper from Scott-Grayson and a fast break layup from Duhon. With three minutes left, Shaw nailed a three-point jumper to erupt the Auburn crowd as they could see win closing in.
“Really pleased with the win," Harris said. "There’s some stuff that we can learn from, and we will going forward, but overall really good win.”
Next up, The Tigers are back in Neville Arena on Thursday to take on South Alabama. Tipoff is set at at 7p.m. CST.
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Alexa Gardner is a sophomore at Auburn, majoring in exercise science. From Birmingham, Ala., she started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.