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Monday, Sep 25, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Auburn dominates North Florida as it heads into SEC play

<p>Scott Grayson (#23) scores a basket against A&amp;T at Neville Arena on December 15th 2022</p>

Scott Grayson (#23) scores a basket against A&T at Neville Arena on December 15th 2022

Auburn women’s basketball was back in Neville Arena Tuesday afternoon for its final home game of 2022 — hosting the North Florida Ospreys and winning 77-49. This win extends the Tigers' home win streak to seven as they head into the new year. 

This was the team's final non-conference game before heading into SEC play next week against Ole Miss. Auburn will head into conference play hoping to improve its 10-2 record. 

Coach Johnnie Harris’ starters included freshmen Sydney Shaw and Kharyssa Richardson, along with redshirt sophomore Romi Levy, junior Jakayla Johnson and redshirt senior Honesty Scott-Grayson. 

On the offensive end, the Tigers had four players score double-digit points including Scott-Grayson with 17, Levy and Shaw with 14 each and Richardson with 10. Levy, gaining her confidence back, shot 100% from the field. 

“This team is really unselfish,” Harris said. “So when they take one thing away, we have other options, and they do a really good job of finding those other options. I thought they did a really good job with that today… I think we have some shooters and there’s times when we can have four to five shooters on the floor so it makes it harder to guard.”

Defensively, the Tigers went to war and forced 25 turnovers with 15 steals. Shaw led the team with four steals. Auburn locked down the lane — only allowing eight points in the paint the entirety of the game. 

“I do think we got a lot off our defense," Harris said. "Our defense dictates our offense, so we wanted to set the tone defensively.” 

The first quarter started fast with a two-point jumper from Scott-Grayson followed by two points from North North Florida’s leading scorer, Lyric Swann, to return the favor. Halfway through the first, the Tigers had back-to-back steals from Levy and Shaw that allowed them to extend their lead and ultimately end the quarter with a seven-point lead. 

The Tiger defense came alive in the second quarter — forcing nine turnovers and five steals to excite the crowd who continued to cheer as freshman Oyindamola Akinbolawa — from Lagos, Nigeria — made her first appearance as a Tiger midway through the second quarter. At half, Levy and Scott led the charge with 12 and eight points, respectively, to help give Auburn a 38-23 lead. 

Auburn came in hot after the half, with Shaw starting the half with a step-back jumper on the wing followed by a three-point jumper from Scott-Grayson. The Tigers went on an 11-3 run to take a 21-point lead — forcing a North Florida timeout. 

In the fourth quarter, Wells, Shaw and Scott-Grayson led their team to victory with four points apiece. The Auburn defense also never let up — only allowing 10 points in the quarter. The Tigers walked away with a 77-49 win over the Ospreys. 

“I just thought it was a good win, a good team win," Harris said. "I thought we did a good job of sharing the ball. We only had 13 assists, but I thought we did a good job of sharing the ball… We give them things that we need to work on and they do a really good job of trying to do that. We’re not perfect, we’re young, but they do a good job of working on the things we tell them to work on.”

Up next, Auburn heads to Oxford, Miss. to open SEC play against Ole Miss. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CST and the game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.

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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