Auburn Women’s Basketball struggles in SEC opener against Alabama

<p>Mar'Shaun Bostic drives for a layup, Auburn WBB vs. Georgia Southern on 11/11/2021</p>
<p>Photo by Elaina Eichorn/Auburn Athletics.</p>

Mar'Shaun Bostic drives for a layup, Auburn WBB vs. Georgia Southern on 11/11/2021

Photo by Elaina Eichorn/Auburn Athletics.

Auburn (8-4) (SEC 0-1) after a postponed game versus Kentucky traveled to Coleman Coliseum on Sunday January 2, to not only start the new year, but also to start SEC play against the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-3) (SEC 1-1). Although the Tigers did not start the game hot, starting the first half shooting eight for 25, they were able to turn it around in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, to produce a nail biter that came down to the last minute. 

After a tip off won by Alabama, the Crimson Tide’s Megan Abrams got the ball rolling with an off-balance jump shot from inside the wing to start off the game. Auburn’s Annie Hughes was quickly able to get momentum back for the Tigers with an and-one three, but was not able to convert on the free throw. Both teams treated the first four minutes as a feeling out process, but Alabama did seem to come out with the idea of getting to the basket as much as possible, punctuated by Megan Abrams making two free throws to put the Tide up seven to six with five minutes to go in the first quarter.

After a timeout, Auburn’s Honesty Scott-Grayson, who would go on to tie as leading scorer with Aicha Coulibaly each with 17 points, was able to grab an easy fastbreak layup to put the Tigers back up 8-7, but Alabama was soon able to answer back with a layup by Jada Rice that put the Tide back on top. Although Auburn was able to get in some blows, the Tide were able to keep the lead for the rest of the first quarter with the last points being scored at the free throw line by Alabama’s Jamya Mingo-Young, putting the Tide up 16-12 after one.

After a first possession Auburn turnover to start the second quarter, Alabama was  able to jump out by four more points off layups, but Auburn’s Sania Wells was able to break this up with two free throws to make the score 20-14 with seven minutes and 30 seconds to go in the second. Neither team seemed to be able to make a regular field goal with the Tide and the Tigers both only getting a free throw a piece for the next two minutes to make the score 21-15 with five minutes to go in the first half.

A layup by Alabama’s Brittany Davis, who was also Alabama’s leading scorer with 12 points, finally broke the spell just before a media timeout which sent both teams to the bench. Following the timeout, the Tide’s Allie Graig Cruce got to the free throw line and Alabama’s Brittany Davis was able to score a fastbreak layup to trigger an Auburn timeout at two minutes 19 seconds with the score 26-17 in favor of Alabama.

The lid came off for both teams during the last two minutes and 19 seconds with the Tigers scoring four of a total 10 points, with the last points coming from a spectacular jumper by Auburn’s Honesty Scott-Grayson, but after the first half of action Alabama still led 32-21.

Auburn got the first basket of the second half with a layup from Aicha Coulibaly, however Auburn was not able to score for the next four minutes, while Alabama was able to score an fast break jumper to negate those two points. Immediately after a jumper by Aicha Coulibaly that finally broke the four minute drought, Alabama’s Jamya Mingo-Young hit a three that sent the Tide fans into a frenzy, to make the score 37-25 Alabama.

After a media timeout, Auburn began to slowly climb out of the hole with an 8-3 scoring run and a momentum grabbing and-one by Honesty Scott-Grayson. This was followed by another and-one off of a inbound play given to Aicha Coulibaly, which led to Auburn tigers being within striking distance at the start of the fourth quarter 40-33. 

Auburn got on the board first with Aicha Coulibaly free throws, but Alabama was able to increase their lead back to nine, capped off by a three by the Tide’s Brittany Davis 49-40 with nearly six minutes left in the game.

That three seemed to hurt the Tigers chances of winning, but after a and-one by Aicha Coulibaly and a technical foul by Alabama, Auburn was able to cut the lead to six with three minutes left,. With one minute remaining, Sania Wells hit a three to cut the deficit to 54-51. Auburn missed a crucial layup with 13 seconds left, and after an intentional foul by Auburn, Alabama’s Megan Abrams was able to hit a free throw with 11 seconds to go, and another free throw after another foul to put the Tide up by 5. Alabama would hold on to win 56-53.

Alabama led in most categories including rebounds 46-43, offensive rebounds 14-13, and free throws 16 made to Auburns' 14. One stat line Alabama did not lead was turnovers with Auburn leading that line with 18-15. When asked about the loss Coach Harris said “we have to get our legs back underneath us”, and must be smarter offensively. They will be preparing for their next game in Missouri on Thursday January 6 at 7:00 p.m. CST.

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