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Grayson Belanger/AU Athletics
Grayson Belanger/AU Athletics

Stifling defensive performance helps Auburn defeat Jacksonville State in season opener

AUBURN, Ala. - The Auburn Tigers women’s basketball team hosted Jacksonville State in its season opener on Monday night. After a tight first quarter, the Tigers pulled away to a dominating 78-49 victory. The Tigers were fueled by strong defense, and a wide variety of scorers.

The defense for Auburn, which started slowly, was stifling after the first quarter of play. After Jacksonville State put up 20 points on the Tigers in the first, the Gamecocks were held to only 29 the remainder of the game. 

“We were giving up middle drives, and within our defensive system there’s no help from the middle,” said Tiger head coach Johnnie Harris. “During the timeout, we told them to stop the middle drive and we got help from those spots. That made a big difference.”

The Tigers would enjoy a big scoring day from newcomer, Savannah Scott. Scott would end the day nearly perfect from the field, shooting 6-7 in route to a 13 point performance. The freshman would also finish with eight rebounds, just two shy of a double-double.

“She’s smart,” said Harris. “She has a very high basketball IQ. You’ll see her get better and better as she catches up with the speed of the game.”

It wasn’t just newcomers who put in big performances for Auburn. Graduate student Honesty Scott-Grayson would drop in a team high 14 points on 50% shooting. After suffering an injury last year, Scott-Grayson is looking to return to the lineup as one of the best guards in the league.

“She can create, she can score, she’s playing both sides of the ball,” said Harris. “She’s getting back to where she was before she got hurt last year, and I’m looking forward to that.”

Another Auburn veteran, junior Mar’shaun Bostic, would put in a complete performance for Coach Harris and the Tigers. The guard had influence on all sides of the ball, collecting four steals to go with her 12 points.

“We had to keep turning our defenders down the court,” said Bostic. “Either slow them down or speed them up. I did get beat a couple times, and Coach J [Johnnie Harris] told me that, so that’s what I’m going to work on in practice. But other than that, I had a good time today.”

Auburn certainly did have a good time Monday night, racing up and down the court in a fast paced, but controlled offensive attack. The Tigers were able to disrupt Jacksonville State all night long with their up tempo offense. Auburn would finish the night with 15 fast break points off of the Gamecocks 19 turnovers.

“We wanted to focus on playing fast, but not in a hurry,” said Harris. “I’ve been working with Mar’shaun on picking her spots, and getting us into something fast. As you all see, she’s fast. She’s gonna go.”

Auburn will look to carry their fast paced performance as momentum into their second matchup of the season. The Tigers will host Louisiana on Thursday night in Neville Arena. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on SECN+.

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