AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn women’s basketball team got off to a fast start against No. 2 South Carolina, but was not able to hold on down the stretch falling 74-58 on Thursday in Auburn Arena.
Auburn (12-7, 2-4 SEC) was unable to find a rhythm offensively against the Gamecocks’ defense, shooting 34.5 percent (19-of-55) for the game while South Carolina overcame a sluggish start to hit 60 percent (15-of-25) from the floor over the final two periods and 51.9 percent for the game.
“We knew it would be a tough game," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "South Carolina’s the number two team in the country. Dawn Staley is a very good friend of mine. She’s doing an excellent job. You can’t help but be happy for her. It’s a tough matchup. They’re big inside. We changed a few things to stop the inside game, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to stop that inside game. They did a very good job.”
Katie Frerking led the Tigers with 17 points, all but two coming from behind the arc (5-of-12). She added seven rebounds and a team-high four assists. Jazmine Jones led the Tigers with eight boards – five on the offensive glass – to go with her six points.
South Carolina opened the game with an 8-0 run before Jessica Jones hit a pair of free throws with 7:28 to go in the first quarter to give the Tigers their first points. Janiah McKay then rattled off 10 unanswered points to tie things up at 12-12. Frerking sank a trey just before the game’s first media timeout to give Auburn a 15-12 lead that they held for the rest of the period. The Tigers ended the first period on a 13-1 run over the final 5:10.
The tables turned quickly in the Gamecocks’ favor as they went on an 18-0 run over the final 7:00 of the second period to take a 33-20 lead into the half. Auburn struggled mightily from the floor in the second period connecting on only 12.5 percent (2-of-16) of their shots.
South Carolina’s momentum carried over from the locker room into the third period scoring 20 and leading by 17 entering the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks led by as many as 24 in the final period, but a late run that included three Frerking treys cut the final margin to 16.
South Carolina used size to its advantage under the rim, scoring 36 points in the paint to Auburn’s 16. The Gamecocks also outrebounded the Tigers 34-30, but Auburn pulled down 13 offensive rebounds on the night, leading to 14 second-chance points.
Alaina Coates led South Carolina with 17 points (8-of-10 FG) and 10 rebounds for her SEC-leading ninth double-double of the season. Tiffany Mitchell added 13 points and three steals.
The Tigers play back-to-back home games for the first time this season as Arkansas visits Auburn Arena at 3 p.m. Sunday. It is the annual “We Back Pat” Game for Alzheimer’s awareness, and fans are encouraged to wear purple.