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Monday, Sep 25, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Auburn takes first SEC win of the season in OT against Ole Miss

February 3, 2022; Auburn, Alabama; Aicha Coulibaly (5) strokes a three from beyond the arc in a match between Auburn and Mississippi State in the Auburn Arena.
February 3, 2022; Auburn, Alabama; Aicha Coulibaly (5) strokes a three from beyond the arc in a match between Auburn and Mississippi State in the Auburn Arena.

In a hard-fought overtime victory, Auburn women’s basketball took it’s first SEC win at home against Ole Miss, breaking a six game losing streak.

It was a tight game, but this time Auburn prevailed over a Rebel team that won 79-47 the first time the two teams met this season.

The fourth quarter opened up quickly with a three-point jumper from Honesty Scott-Grayson giving Auburn a seven point lead over the visiting team; however, Ole Miss stole back the lead with three and a half minutes to play, 64-62. 

After a back and forth battle, the Tigers come out with the lead with less than one minute remaining. Ole Miss tied the game with 30 seconds left. Auburn was unable to score in the end. 

The game headed into overtime with a score of 70-70. 

“When we go into overtime, that’s our time,” said Auburn head coach Johnnie Harris. “You forget about being tired, forget about being hurt, forget about anything. It’s go time. It’s time to take it to them.” 

In overtime, it was a fight to the death with neither team giving in. Ole Miss opened up the extra time with a layup, taking the lead, which was quickly answered by a three point jumper from Aicha Coulibaly. 

Ole Miss, not giving up, took the lead yet again at the free throw line. It was short lived, after free throws from Coulibaly and a layup from Scott-Grayson gave the Tigers a three point advantage. Ole Miss responded with a layup, Tigers still up by one. After an Auburn turnover with 25 seconds left, Ole Miss was unable to score, allowing Auburn to walk away with their first SEC win. 

“We’ve been talking about this team being close to a breakthrough. They’ve been in ballgames, they’ve put together quarters, now it was time to put together a complete ballgame and I thought they did that today," Harris said. "I thought everybody played a part in doing this and this win. It started in practice. They’re learning to stay focused. They’re learning to hold each other accountable, and I think that’s going to pay off for us.” 

Late in the second quarter, New Jersey native and redshirt senior Scott-Grayson hit 1000 career points. After transferring from Baylor and sitting out a season per NCAA rules, Scott-Grayson started her career at Auburn in the 2020-2021 season. Starting all 24 games as a redshirt sophomore, she quickly became an essential piece of the Auburn team and remains important.

Also making career records of her own, junior Coulibaly hit a career high of 31 points. She also had seven rebounds, four assists and five steals. 

“I was waiting for this game,” said Coulibaly. "I knew it was a game that was going to be competitive because they beat us the first [time]. I was just ready. I just wanted to win. I was tired of losing. I was desperate for a win.”

Harris’ starters included freshmen Sydney Shaw and Kharyssa Richardson and junior Jakayla Johnson alongside Coulibaly and Scott-Grayson. 

To start, the Tiger defense forced a turnover in the first play of the game, immediately followed by a layup from Coulibaly to set the tone. The favor was returned by Ole Miss star Angel Baker, who went on to end the game with 25 points. The quarter ended with the Tigers behind by six.

As the second quarter went underway, junior Romi Levy made a big three point jumper that ignited the crowd as the Tigers came within three points of the Rebels. The intensity was short lived, as Ole Miss went on a scoring run to get up to a 14-point lead with under four minutes left in the half. The Tigers ended the half in an eight-point deficit — 41-33.

The third quarter was the game changer for the Tigers. Coulibaly started out the scoring in the second half and ended up with 12 points in the third alone. The Tigers rallied, creeping ever closer to the Lady Rebels. 

Midway into the third, a layup from Richardson, assisted by Coulibaly, tied the game at 43. The very next play, after a defensive rebound from Coulibaly, Richardson sank another layup to give the Tigers the lead for the first time. After a hard fight, The Tigers ended the quarter with a four point lead, 57-53.

“I thought our team came out and you know they’re always prepared, but I thought they came to play today,” said Coach Harris. “I thought they played tough, hard-nosed, physical, and aggressive and that’s what we preach to them.”

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Next up, the Tigers head to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday, hoping to continue their momentum from this first SEC win. Tip off is set for 6 pm CT.

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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