Jan. 3, 2013
AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team fought until the final seconds ticked off to pick up its first Southeastern Conference win in the SEC opener, as the Tigers downed No. 23 Arkansas, 50-47, Thursday at Auburn Arena.
Auburn improved to 12-2 (1-0 SEC), while the Razorbacks fell to 12-2 (0-1 SEC). The Tigers earned their ninth-straight victory and 10th-straight home victory.
"I'm very proud of my young ladies," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "It was very tough for them to come into their first SEC game against Arkansas. All you hear are the memories of them getting beat by 20 last year at Arkansas. Mentally, you know you're better. You know you're playing better. You're a better team, but still, you still have those little ghosts in the corners.
"I thought our girls did a really good job of setting the tone right away for the game. On the run that we went on, I think the more that they let our press work, the more that they get into it. I thought they just did a really good job."
The win was a first for Auburn in more ways than one. It marked Williams-Flournoy's first career SEC victory as a head coach, and it was also the Tigers' first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 22 Georgia on Feb. 24, 2011. Arkansas entered the game ranked No. 23 in the AP poll.
Tyrese Tanner led Auburn in scoring with 15 points, while Hasina Muhammad added 13. With her 13 points, Muhammad continues to be the SEC's lone player having score in double figures in each game this season. Muhammad has now posted double figures in 16-consecutive games dating back to the 2011-12 season.
Peyton Davis had a career night on the boards, grabbing 17 rebounds and besting her previous career high by six. Davis is tied for 27th all-time in single-game rebounds and is the most rebounds for an Auburn player since DeWanna Bonner tallied 19 against St. Joseph's on Dec. 29, 2007.
Blanche Alverson moved into sole possession of 28th all-time in career rebounds with 474, while Najat Ouardad is now 30th all-time in career assists with 174. Ouardad had five assists and five steals with four points on the night.
It proved to be a defensive battle for much of the game as neither team was able to get much going offensively. Auburn finished at just 32.8 percent shooting on the night, while Arkansas was held to 16-of-58 from the floor (.276). The 47 points was a season-low for the Razorbacks, 17 points below their previous low of 64.
The Tigers applied pressure and led midway through the first after a 13-5 run gave Auburn its biggest lead of the half at 15-10, but the Razorbacks came back to take a one-point lead at 20-19 going into the locker room.
Muhammad drove for a layup to start the second half and gave Auburn a 21-20 lead, but the Tigers gave it right back on a wide-open 3-pointer from Arkansas' Keira Peak made it 23-21.
That would be the story of the beginning of the second half as the teams traded the lead seven times before Auburn finally pulled away for good with just less than 15 minutes remaining.
The Tigers held a 10-point lead on two different occasions, but Arkansas fought back to cut it to 48-47 with 3:23 remaining. Ouardad came up with a steal and an assist with just over a minute to play as Muhammad laid it in the basket to give the Tigers the 50-47 win.
Quistelle Williams led Arkansas in scoring with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Sarah Watkins added nine points, including five free throws, off the bench. Melissa Wolff grabbed 11 rebounds in the effort, and Keira Peak added seven points, two assists, two blocks and two steals.
Auburn returns to action Sunday as it travels to Columbia, Mo., for its third all-time matchup against Missouri at 2 p.m. CT from the Mizzou Arena. Missouri is 11-4 (0-1 SEC) after falling, 77-46, to No. 10/11 Georgia. The last time Auburn and Missouri faced off was Jan. 3, 1985, when Auburn took a 75-62 win at the Miami Women's Court Classic in Miami, Fla.