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Friday, Dec 8, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Auburn falls short late in SEC home opener

Auburn guard Jakayla Johnson (3) attempts a shot during a matchup against Little Rock in Neville Arena on Nov. 30, 2022.
Auburn guard Jakayla Johnson (3) attempts a shot during a matchup against Little Rock in Neville Arena on Nov. 30, 2022.

Auburn women’s basketball lost its second straight game and its SEC home opener in a tough 62-56 loss to Missouri. 

After suffering a blowout loss in Oxford to Ole Miss, Auburn returned home for its first game in 2023. Though the team came back and played a closer game, the Tigers came up just short. 

“I thought it was the little things that got us beat today. I thought our team came back and they played harder and they played tougher," said head coach Johnnie Harris. "We still made mistakes. We still missed shots that we have to make."

The game remained close until Missouri began to surge late in the third quarter to make it a 10-point game. Auburn managed to start a comeback early in the fourth quarter, knocking the lead down to as low as three before Missouri iced the game with back-to-back three pointers. 

Honesty Scott-Grayson — who is second in the nation for three point percentage (49%) — missed her second consecutive game. The Tigers were missing Scott-Grayson’s strong shooting as they shot 36% from the field and 17% from three.

“I am really missing Honesty, not only her shooting, just her presence on the floor. She can calm things down, she can create and she’s been the one that has been helping us at point guard some,” Harris said.

Missouri continued its strong start to conference play with the win. The visiting Tigers managed to score 43% of their shots from the field and 33% from three point range. Missouri came into the game as the third best team in the conference in three-point percentage, shooting 36% on the season. 

Auburn came into the game as the second-best team in the conference in three-point percentage, shooting 36.4% on the season, but the Tigers were never able to get their long range shots to fall, only shooting 2-for-12 in the game. 

Missouri was led offensively by Haley Frank, who had 23 points. Katlyn Gilbert led Missouri defensively with four steals on top of her strong offensive effort of 14 points. 

Aicha Coulibaly led Auburn in scoring and rebounding with 20 points and seven rebounds. Jakayla Johnson, who took Scott-Grayson’s starting spot, notched a career-high nine points while also leading the team with four assists and minutes played with 34. 

“I didn’t know I was running point until the day before,” said Johnson. “I had to take a big role and I knew being a point guard, I have to make sure we’re in the offense, make sure we’re running in the right spots.”

Auburn has now lost its last three games against Missouri and its last five games against SEC opponents dating back to February of the 2021-22 season. With the loss, Auburn drops to 10-4 on the season and 0-2 in conference play. Missouri moves up to 13-2 and 2-0 in conference play.

Auburn will be back in action when it travels to take on South Carolina, the current No. 1 team in the nation, on Jan. 5. The game is set to start at 6 p.m. CST and will be aired on SECN+.

Chris Mendoza | Sports Writer

Chris Mendoza is a senior from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism and minoring in sports coaching. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.

Twitter: @chris_mendoza20

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