AUBURN, Ala.—The rise of Auburn women’s basketball continues under head coach Johnnie Harris. Auburn never trailed against one of the nation’s top defenses, taking down Tulane 73-58. The Tigers have their first postseason win under Harris, and their first since 2016.
“It's helping this team grow up, you know, this is what we need,” said Harris. “This is where we want to be, this is the standard here. We want to be in postseason play, we want to be in the NCAA Tournament. So this will prepare us to do so going forward.”
Auburn was short handed with Precious Johnson not on the bench, but four double-digit scorers helped bring the win home. Honesty Scott-Grayson was an efficient leading scorer for the Tigers, with 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Scott-Grayson was responsible for three of the Tigers’ four makes from 3-point land, as the team shot just 4-for-17.
Scott-Grayson was flying across the floor on the defensive end as well, with one block, four steals and several plays where the senior was diving for loose balls.
“It's been a while since I've had a postseason,” said Scott-Grayson. “I just don't take things like that for granted. And when I do get the chance, and am blessed to you know, be in a position that we're in. I feel like we have no choice but to give it our all and get the job done.”
Scott-Grayson led a relentless defense that forced 22 Tulane turnovers, and that defense turned into instant offense for the Tigers, with 22 points off turnovers. With 15 fastbreak points, Auburn was able to take control of the game early and despite a few runs and some cold shooting in the second half(38.7%), the Tigers led the whole way.
“We worked on transition offense but we also worked on getting stops and going in transition and making good decisions,” Harris said. “We shot some threes in transition. We shot some jumpers, but they've been in the gym. They've been knocking them down in practice. So you know, I was really comfortable with them taking those shots.”
Aicha Coulibaly struggled to score through the first three quarters, but the All-SEC second team selection led the team in the final 10 minutes with six points. The junior finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Along with the traditional contributors in Scott-Grayson and Coulibaly, Auburn saw big performances from Sydney Shaw and Kharyssa Richardson.
Shaw was just 1-for-7 from beyond the arc, but she was able to dominate inside the 3-point line, going 6-of-7 and finishing the game with 15 points. Richardson was just as efficient from the floor, going 7-for-8 from the field and 2-of-2 at the free throw line to finish the game with 18 points.
“I'll just say, staying in the gym and working on my shot with Coach D also,” said Richardson on how she found a groove tonight.
Behind that quarter of scoring and a defense that held Tulane to under 40% shooting from the floor, it was a dominant round one victory for the Tigers. The Green Wave were dangerous from 3, hitting 46.2% of their shots, but the issues inside due to Auburn’s size advantage was ultimately too much.
In the second round, Auburn will face off with Clemson, in South Carolina and on March 21 at 6 p.m. CST.