Auburn was once again without center Precious Johnson and forward Romi Levy due to an illness going around the team. However, there was a key addition to that list tonight. It was announced that head coach Johnnie Harris would not be at her usual spot on the bench coaching the Tigers. Instead, it would be associate head coach Damitria Buchanan who would lead Auburn to a 71-62 victory inside Neville Arena.
“We really fought hard. Credit to South Alabama, they are a really good team,” Buchanan said. “I credit everybody in our program for being able to work together to be able to get this dub. It was not easy, and I don’t think it would’ve been easy if we had been full-fledged because they are a really good team.”
News broke just before tipoff that Auburn head coach Johnnie Harris would be out with an illness. Harris was around the team throughout the day but ultimately had to go home before the game.
“About 1:45 p.m. is when Coach J started feeling bad. We thought she would maybe be able to come out tonight. Right after pregame meal at about 3:45 p.m. was when I found out that she wasn’t going to be able to make it,” Buchanan said.
Mya Pratcher was also absent in tonight’s win after feeling unwell during warmups. She ended up having a 101 fever and had to be sent home, according to Buchmann.
Freshman Kaitlyn Duhon had a career night for the Tigers. The guard finished second on the team with 17 points and pulled in a team-high seven rebounds. Duhon also showed her importance on the defensive side of the court with a team-high three steals.
“Crashing the boards and knowing that I had way more energy than the other players to hustle and scramble for the ball,” Duhon said to what is credited for her success.
Once again though, it was none other than Aicha Coulibaly. Starting zero-for-five from the field, Coulibaly took a hit to the head just inside three minutes of the contest that forced her to go straight to the locker room to be evaluated. She would return a few minutes later and put on a performance to remember. The junior would spark a run that saw Auburn put up 13 unanswered points on her way to a 19-point night.
“When it comes down to our conditioning, physicality, and our toughness, I never thought that they matched that cause that’s just who we are,” Buchmann said.
It was miss after miss from behind the arc for Auburn. The Tigers ended the night shooting twenty percent from three. In fact, it was such a struggle that Auburn did not make a three-pointer until midway through the third quarter, when Coulibaly hit one and the crowd erupted.
Honesty Scott-Grayson had a quite night early on after being second on the team in points against Sam Houston State. She would eventually make her presence known midway through the fourth quarter with an easy score in the paint. With just over a minute left in the fourth quarter, when the Auburn offense seemingly could not get anything going, Scott-Grayson made a crucial three pointer that would extend Auburn’s lead to double digits. The senior would go on to finish the game with six points, the lowest of any starter.
Auburn will try to ride the momentum of an undefeated season into next Wednesday night against Georgia Tech. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Neville Arena with coverage from SECN+.