FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Auburn fought back from a 16-point halftime deficit to get as close as two points, but the Tigers could not complete the comeback, falling at Arkansas 52-47 Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
The shorthanded Tigers outscored Arkansas by 11 points in the second half and on two occasions cut the deficit to as little as two points. However, several turnovers in the final five minutes derailed Auburn’s comeback hopes, and Arkansas free throws in the final minute sealed the result.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half, and we turned the ball over 20 times,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “(In the second half) we got some baskets in transition, but it’s very hard to win a basketball game if you don’t score, no matter how many stops you get.”
Despite playing with foul trouble most of the night, junior Tra’Cee Tanner led Auburn with 12 points, and sophomore Katie Frerking added 10. Sophomore Khady Dieng, playing as the backup point guard for the first time this season, was effective in her role with seven points and a career-high eight rebounds.
For the third straight game, Auburn out-shot its opponent from the floor. The Tigers posted a 39.1-percent field goal clip while Arkansas shot 35.4 percent. The Tigers also out-rebounded the Razorbacks (33-28) and outscored Arkansas in the paint 30-18.
Despite neither team shooting well throughout most of the first half, Arkansas closed the half on an 11-0 run to take a 31-15 lead at the break. But the Razorbacks made just one of their first 15 field goal attempts in the second half, allowing the Tigers to cut into the margin. Auburn forced three straight Arkansas turnovers, turning those into transition baskets and cutting the lead to 41-39 with 3:59 to play. But the Tigers would turn the ball over in some fashion on seven of their next nine offensive possessions.
Auburn, playing without seniors Hasina Muhammad (suspension) and Kiani Parker (injury) started a lineup with three freshmen for the first time in nine years as Neydja Petithomme, Jazmine Jones and Jessica Jones got the start.
Kelsey Brooks led Arkansas with 17 points and Melissa Wolff added 12.
The Tigers stay on the road for their next contest, a Sunday tilt at No. 12 Texas A&M. Tip is set for 2 p.m. CT at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.
The Tigers are on the road for their next two contests, beginning Thursday night with a 7 p.m. tip at Arkansas. SEC Network + will carry an online broadcast of the game via WatchESPN.