Auburn women’s basketball held off a late Kentucky comeback with a 71-68 win Thursday night in Lexington to win its second consecutive SEC win and its first road win of the season.
The Tigers traveled to Kentucky with some momentum after Sunday’s thriller against Ole Miss when they had to come back from a 14-point deficit against the Rebels. However, Auburn was the team that had to fend off against a late surge from the Wildcats on Thursday night.
The game began as a back and forth with neither team managing to pull away. Auburn managed to keep the game within six points in the first half before pulling away halfway through the third quarter, managing to tally an 11-point lead at one point.
Though Kentucky started to make a late comeback in the fourth quarter, it fell just short at the last second. A late steal and foul with one second left on the clock sealed Auburn’s second consecutive SEC victory, the first time the Tigers have managed to win back-to-back conference games since March of 2019.
“It was a total team effort. We came out a little sluggish, but it got better in the second quarter. Then it was a whole lot better in the third, said head coach Johnnie Harris. "Both on the offensive and defensive end, we slowed down and started running some really good stuff, and we got the ball in the right people’s hands."
The Tigers’ defense led the way for the win. Auburn scored 32 points off of 16 turnovers and had 11 total steals. Auburn also made its free throws count, shooting 15-for-20 from the line.
Aicha Coulibaly led the way again for the Tigers on offense with 20 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the field. She also tallied three steals, including the steal that sealed the win for Auburn. Jakayla Johnson led the team with six assists in the game.
Sania Wells also helped out on the offensive side of the ball, setting a season-high of 16 points on an efficient 6-for-8 from the field and shooting perfect from the free-throw line. Honesty Scott-Grayson made her presence known on the defense with four steals.
The Wildcats had a few impressive individual performances of their own. Robyn Benton led the team in scoring with 19 points while Maddie Scherr had an impressive stat-line all-around with 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
Auburn improves to 12-8 on the season and 2-6 in SEC play after starting out 0-6 against SEC teams. Kentucky drops to 9-11 and 1-7 in conference play this season with the loss.
The Tigers will return back to Neville Arena for the first of three consecutive home games on Jan. 30 to take on Florida. Auburn looks to continue stringing along its run of wins. The game is set to start at 6 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on SEC Network.
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Chris Mendoza is a senior from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism and minoring in sports coaching. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.