No. 5 Auburn Holds Off Kentucky For 81-69 Victory
Feb. 12, 2009
AUBURN - The No. 5 Auburn women's basketball team (24-1, 9-1 SEC) rode a 23-point lead in the first half to an 81-69 victory over conference foe Kentucky (13-12, 3-7 SEC) Thursday night at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
Auburn's first-half lead proved to be a necessity in the second period of play as Kentucky surged to within six points of the lead, but the Tigers held strong.
"I'm pleased with the win," said Fortner. "I thought that we sustained a good hit by Kentucky in the second half and came out of it."
Leading the Tigers was senior Whitney Boddie who tallied 20 points, one shy of her career-high, and 10 assists as she posted her eighth of the season and second straight double-double.
"I wouldn't say I was in the zone," Boddie said on her 9-of-13 shooting night. "I was just really trying to make plays because they were backing off me. I tried to let the game come to me, but at the same time be aggressive and also get my teammate's shots."
Joining Boddie in double figures were the other four Auburn starters, marking just the second time this season for all five starters to finish in double figures. DeWanna Bonner collected 17 points during the game and also pulled down nine rebounds, which places her fifth all-time at Auburn in career rebounding.
Also finishing with double digits was Sherell Hobbs with her 15 points and three rebounds, Alli Smalley with 11 points and seven rebounds, and Trevesha Jackson, who scored 10 and grabbed another six boards.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Tigers against Kentucky and improved head coach Nell Fortner's record against the Wildcats to 4-2. In the series between the two teams, Auburn moves to a 34-11 mark.
Opening the game, Auburn and Kentucky exchanged points, with the game at a 12-12 tie with 13:19 to play. However, the remainder of the half belonged to the Tigers as they went on a 27-5 run to take a 22-point lead with 5:10 left to play.
Auburn eventually led by 23 with a little more than a minute left to play, the team's largest lead of the game.
"At the first of the game we were taking too many perimeter shots," Fortner stated. "We were stressing to penetrate and attack the basket and attack the paint, but once we really came around to doing that, I thought we were much more successful."
Auburn shot 61.8 percent from the field in the first half, with Sherell Hobbs and Whitney Boddie both tallying 10 points. Boddie recorded seven assists, topping the entire Kentucky squad and leading the Tigers, while DeWanna Bonner brought down six rebounds.
Entering the second half, Kentucky slowly chipped away at the Auburn lead, eventually pulling within six points with 9:47 left in the game. Eleia Roddy scored 18 second-half points to lead the Wildcats back into the game.
"Maybe I should have called a timeout, but I really trust my team," Fortner said. "I have tremendous confidence in them and tremendous confidence in their ability to knock down some shots and to make the right decisions and I just felt like tonight was a good time to allow them to do that and to let them be the master of the game and it worked."
Fortner's confidence proved accurate as the Tigers out-scored Kentucky 22-16 in the final minutes to pull away with the 81-69 victory.
Auburn was led in the second half by the "Killer Bs" duo as Boddie scored another 10 points and Bonner collected nine.
"I gave them a lot of rope tonight because I could have called a timeout," Fortner noted. "I wanted them to try to do it on their own on the floor and I felt like they did that."
Leading the Kentucky squad was Roddy with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Behind Roddy's team-leading performance were Amber Smith and Amani Franklin as they both logged 15 points and four rebounds. Victoria Dunlap rounded out the Wildcats with 13 points and four rebounds.
For the game, Auburn shot 58.7 percent from the field, accurate from 37-of-63 attempts. Only seeing the free-throw line eight times, the Tigers knocked down six of the shots and only made one of their five three-point efforts. Auburn also pulled down 37 rebounds against Kentucky's 31.
The Wildcats used Auburn's 12 turnovers and converted them into 17 points. Kentucky recorded six steals and one block. They also shot 40.6 percent, hitting 26-of-64 shots from the field, including 6-of-16 from beyond the arc. Kentucky knocked down 11-of-14 from the free-throw line.
Two Tigers reached careers milestones during the game. Bonner, with her nine rebounds during the win, moved into fifth all-time in career rebounding. Also, KeKe Carrier, despite seeing only six minutes of play, led the team in blocks with three and passed Lori Monroe for fourth all-time in career blocks with a total of 142.
The victory not only gave Auburn its 24th of the season, the most since the 1992-93 season, but also gave the Tigers sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers entered the game tied for first with Florida, but the No. 9 Gators fell to No. 24 Vanderbilt, 84-68, Thursday night.
Auburn will return to action at 2 p.m., Sunday as it travels to face Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.
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