KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Auburn and No. 7 Tennessee went back and forth for nearly 40 minutes Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, but the Lady Vols pulled away in the final two minutes for a 70-59 win.
The Tigers (10-4, 1-1 SEC) forced the Lady Vols (14-0, 2-0 SEC) into a season-high 28 turnovers and hit four more shots than Tennessee. However, UT was able to take advantage of their opportunities at the free-throw line, hitting 22-of-28 attempts while Auburn attempted just four free throws, hitting three.
“I thought our young ladies played a heck of a ballgame,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We take nothing away from Tennessee, but we played a heck of a game. That last minute, they made some good shots, but we played an unbelievable game, forcing them into turnovers. I’m just very proud of our young ladies.
“We played them extremely tough. We had some shots that didn’t fall, some layups that we needed to finish. We got a little rattled there; it got loud in here.”
In a game that saw the lead change hands 16 times, Auburn led by as many as five points early and as many as four points midway through the fourth quarter. But with the score tied at 57-57 with two minutes to play, UT finished the game on a 13-2 run with six of those points coming at the free-throw line.
The game was tied at halftime, 30-30, and again at the end of three quarters, 44-44. Auburn led 55-51 with less than four minutes to play but made just two shots the rest of the way.
With Tennessee’s season-high 28 turnovers, Auburn continued its streak of forcing every opponent this year into at least 20 turnovers, and it was the eighth time for the Tigers to force an opponent into at least 25.
Auburn shot 31.6% from the field (25-of-79) but attempted 32 more shots than the Lady Vols, who shot 44.7% (21-47). Both teams hit six 3-pointers on the night. Tennessee finished with 44 rebounds to Auburn’s 37, but Auburn held the edge through three periods.
The Tigers are back in action against their second-straight nationally ranked opponent when No. 19 Texas A&M visits Auburn Arena on Sunday. Game time is 2 p.m., and Williams-Flournoy appealed to Auburn fans to make an effort to be there.
“(The crowd at Tennessee) made a difference when they made a run,” she said. “When you’ve got your fans backing you and going crazy, it makes a difference. I really wish our fans would get out there and support us. Our young ladies play hard, really hard.”