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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn’s comeback falls short in loss to UCF

Auburn guard Sydney Shaw (5) drives to the basket against California on November 17, 2023 in Neville Arena.
Auburn guard Sydney Shaw (5) drives to the basket against California on November 17, 2023 in Neville Arena.

Despite a comeback bid in the second half of Monday night’s matchup, Auburn women’s basketball came up short, dropping its second straight game against UCF, 60-53, in Orlando, Florida.

After fighting and trading blows in the first half, a momentous Knight run to start the third quarter helped them secure a lead and not let go of it. UCF turned in a 13-4 scoring drive that was assisted by three scores from behind the arc.

The UCF run was led by Laila Jewett and Achol Akot, who together contributed 25 of the 60 points that the team scored.

Head coach Johnnie Harris said that the difference in this game was the defensive miscues and low shot conversions during that span.

“They came out in the second half against our 3-2 zone and knocked down some 3s,” Harris said. “That was the difference in the ballgame. We had to get out of our zone. We missed shots, then tried to play half-court with them. We executed, but we didn’t hit shots. And then when we got fouled, we missed our free throws.”

The Knights controlled the main portions of the stat sheet that they needed to. They finished the game hitting 45.7% of their total shots compared to the Tigers, who shot 38.2% on the night. The Knights also converted from the free-throw line more efficiently than Auburn, converting on 84.6% of their chances while the orange and blue shot 56.3%.

Auburn sophomore Sydney Shaw made a statement on the stat sheet for the Tigers, though. The young star put up a career-high 17 points, hitting two shots from deep among the seven shots that she put through the net tonight. 

Shaw was joined by Taylen Collins as the only other player to score double-digits, as she put up 11 on the scoreboard to go along with the eight rebounds she racked up.

As has been the trend of late, the Tigers started the game slowly, watching the Knights go on an 11-2 run out of the gates.

Auburn would return the favor to its opponents in the second quarter though, finding its own 11-3 run and eventually taking the lead for the first time at the halfway point of the period. The drive was led by a powerful scoring presence from both Shaw and Celia Submane.

It was at the end of the first half, though, that a UCF 3-pointer by Jewett would change the momentum of the game entirely. 

While the 13-4 run to start the quarter was initiated by the score shifting back and forth, it was the 10 straight points in the middle of it that made the statement for the Knights. 

Akot put in two layups, eventually followed by 3-pointers from Mya Burns and Jewett, respectively.

The Tigers made multiple pushes to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but could never come within closer than two, seeing that margin five times in the closing minutes. UCF would convert its free throws when they mattered most and closed the game out with a victory. 

The loss drops Auburn to 3-2 on the season, while UCF improves to 3-0 as the teams enter the Thanksgiving holiday week. 

The Tigers will head back home to Neville Arena on Sunday, Nov. 26, to take on in-state opponent Alabama A&M. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT.

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Tyler Raley | Sports Writer

Tyler Raley is a junior from Birmingham, Alabama, majoring in journalism.

Twitter: @traley34

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