Jan. 19, 2012
AUBURN - Auburn's Tyrese Tanner scored four of her game-high 15 points in the final 2:08, leading the Tigers (10-9, 2-4 SEC) to a 53-49 win over South Carolina (14-5, 3-3 SEC) Thursday night in Auburn Arena. Auburn led by as many as 13 points before South Carolina rallied back to take a one-point lead with 5:31 left in the game.
"That was a big win for us," Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said. "It came at a time that we needed a win. I think South Carolina's just having a really good season. It came against a good team and hopefully that gets us back on the winning track."
Auburn was led in scoring by sophomore Tanner with 15 points. It was the fourth time in five games that Tanner led the Tigers in scoring, each time coming off the bench. Tanner is averaging 15 points over the last five games and 13.8 in Southeastern Conference play.
"She's been very valuable because she's versatile," Fortner said of Tanner. "She can play anywhere on the floor. We're really trying to get her on that block more. She's hard to guard on that block. She has good poise and is really starting to feel her game really coming around now."
After leading by as many as 13 points with 10:20 left in the game, Auburn relinquished the lead as South Carolina went on a 14-2 run to go up, 47-46, with just 5:31 remaining. Blanche Alverson ended the Tigers' scoring drought from the floor with a 3-pointer at the 3:19 mark to put her team back in the lead.
South Carolina's Ashley Bruner hit a pair of free throws with 2:19 left to tie the game up at 49 before Tanner took over. Tanner answered on the next possession with a layup to put the Tigers in the lead, but the Gamecocks would have another chance. Ieasia Walker missed a jumper with 10 seconds left in the game and a Hasina Muhammad rebound set Tanner up at the free-throw line for a pair to seal the win.
Muhammad tallied her 11th game to score in double figures with 11 points, as the freshman picked up five rebounds, a pair of blocks and a pair of steals. Junior Najat Ouardad added seven points, six assists and three steals to lead the Tiger defensive effort.
"She's just pesky," Fortner said of Ouardad. "When you're going against her, she can really make a difference in changing the flow of the opponent's offense. She just never quits. She never gives up on a play. She never gives up on a possession. She's just constantly staying with it. When everybody starts playing off of that on our team, it gives us a lot more energy."
South Carolina was led in scoring by Markeshia Grant with nine points, as Walker and Bruner added eight each. Sancheon White grabbed a game-high 13 boards for the Gamecocks, who out-rebounded the Tigers, 42-33. No Gamecock finished in double digits in scoring, marking the first time since the season-opener against Mercer that Auburn held an opponent without a player in double figures.
The Tigers return to action at 2 p.m. CT, Sunday as Auburn travels to Mississippi State (12-6, 2-3 SEC). The Bulldogs downed in-state rival 51-46 in Oxford, Miss.