Despite the score favoring Mississippi State at the end of the game, Auburn made improvements and earned small victories that showed promise for the near future.
Closing out the fourth quarter on a high note, the Bulldogs (14-5, 3-3 SEC) utilized the final 10 minutes to defeat the Tigers 72-58 in Humphrey Coliseum. In the third quarter, Auburn (10-8, 0-6 SEC) returned from a 15-point deficit to take a lead, but that effort did not hold off the home team.
“Just some mistakes down the stretch,” said head coach Johnnie Harris. “These kids, they worked so hard. They worked hard for this. I just feel bad that the mistakes we made, we put them on the foul line, we had some wide open shots we missed. We were up three for awhile but then couldn’t knock down a shot."
Aicha Coulibaly made a triumphant return after missing the Tigers' last two games. Leading her team across the entire stat line, Coulibaly finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, four steals and four assists. Coming out hot after halftime, Auburn shot 80% in the third quarter to return from what was an eight-point deficit.
Scoring on the first nine possessions, Auburn went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 36-36 with just over five minutes of play remaining in the third. Kharyssa Richardson made a layup to give the Tigers a 38-37 lead, then 3-pointers from Romi Levy and Sydney Shaw pushed their team ahead by up to three.
The Tigers got to that three-point lead before the tide ultimately turned in favor of Mississippi State. Continuing her consistent scoring contributions, Honesty Scott-Grayson added 12 points, followed by Shaw with nine.
Jessika Carter was a dominant force for the Bulldogs, earning a double-double on 24 points and 11 rebounds. Her efforts were matched by Jerkaila Jordan, who finished with a double-double on 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Auburn converted 15 Mississippi State turnovers into 19 points, but the Bulldogs shot 46.2% through the game and held Auburn to just 38.7%.
While the shooting performance was not where they wanted it to be, the Tigers had a strong defensive performance in the second quarter — in the first eight minutes, the Bulldogs were held to just one field goal. Ultimately, Mississippi State went 21-for-32 from the free throw line and out-rebounded Auburn 44-28. The Tigers went 5-for-11 on their free throws.
Next, the Tigers return to Neville Arena where they take on another Mississippi team in hopes of building on the success they found against the Bulldogs. Facing Ole Miss on Sunday, Jan. 22, the game tips off at 4 p.m. CST. The game will air on the SEC Network.
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Callie Stanford, junior in communications, is the sports editor at the Auburn Plainsman. Currently a junior, she has been with The Plainsman since January 2021.