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Monday, Sep 25, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Returning stars get boost from freshman in big exhibition win

It’s that time of year again: Auburn basketball is back in Neville Arena. The Auburn women’s basketball team had a new look in their exhibition game Thursday night, teasing the start of head coach Johnnie Harris' second year at Auburn with a 81-59 win over Tuskegee. 

“I thought we battled,” Harris said. “What we do is try to wear people out. At the end, they started turning the ball over, but that was a result of what we did to them in the first, second and third quarters. We made some mistakes, but I thought our pressure finally wore them down.”

Harris’ starters included three freshmen: Kaitlyn Duhon, Sydney Shaw, and Kharyssa Richardson, and two returning starters: redshirt senior Honesty Scott-Grayson and junior Aicha Coulibaly. 

Last year’s leading scorer, Coulibaly (17 PPG) ended the game with 16 points and 12 rebounds to clinch a double-double with under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Scott-Grayson led the team, ending with 17 points. Leading the freshman pack, Shaw followed close behind with 13 to round out Auburn's trio of double-digit scorers. 

It was a true team effort, as the Tigers had 12 players see the court tonight with 11 of them scoring – including four freshmen. 

Offensively, Auburn took control in the paint, with 48 points in the paint alone compared to Tuskegee’s 28. The Tigers finished with a 49.4 scoring percentage compared to a 35.7 performance from the opposing team. 

Auburn held a substantial lead the majority of the game with Tuskegee only coming within 10 once late in the third quarter after Duhon received a technical foul. This ignited the visiting crowd; however, the intensity was short-lived as Auburn continued to extend its lead through the end of the game. 

To start the game, Coulibaly came in hot with Auburn's first basket of the night and kept going for a quick seven points and three rebounds in the first quarter. Scott-Grayson crept close behind with four. 

Late in the first, junior forward Romi Levy made her first appearance since the 2020-21 season. After suffering from a torn ACL before the start of the 2021-22 season, she is officially back on the court and made her presence known quickly with a fast-break layup and a second-chance jumper giving her four points in the first. She ended her return with four points and three rebounds in 10 minutes.

In the second, the Auburn bench showed up with 10 points from senior Sania Wells, junior transfer Jakayla Johnson, junior Precious Johnson and freshman Mya Pratcher, collectively. The Tigers ended the first half with a 35-24 lead. 

Duhon started off the second half with a steal and layup to set the Tigers up for continued success. The Tigers picked up five team fouls early in the third giving Tuskegee the edge in bonus; however, the Tigers did not faulter and were able to maintain the lead. 

Scott-Grayson came in with a big steal at the beginning of the fourth to bring up the energy in the arena. The energy continued through the fourth quarter, as nine Tigers were able to score in the fourth for a total of 23 points to end the night with a 22-point win. 

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The Tigers are back in Neville Arena next Tuesday to begin the regular season with Auburn against Sam Houston at 7 p.m. CST. 

Alexa Gardner | Sports Writer

Alexa Gardner is a sophomore at Auburn, majoring in exercise science. From Birmingham, Ala., she started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.

Twitter: @alexagardner_

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