No. 5 Auburn Hits Late Free Throws For 63-58 Win At Mississippi State
Feb. 15, 2009
STARKVILLE, Miss. - DeWanna Bonner hit two free throws with 18 seconds left against Mississippi State (19-7, 6-5 SEC) to put the No. 5 Auburn women's basketball team (25-1, 10-1 SEC) up by four and out of reach as the Tigers pulled out a 63-58 win Sunday at MSU's Humphrey Coliseum.
Bonner scored four of her game-high 25 points in the final 1:03 to lead Auburn to the win. She also tallied the 38th double-double of her career, and her first since playing at Arkansas on Jan. 18, with her team-leading 10 rebounds.
Senior point guard Whitney Boddie, along with fellow senior Sherell Hobbs, also hit a pair of free throws each in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory for Auburn. AU was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 90 seconds, finishing the game at 71.4 percent (20-of-28).
Boddie finished the game second on the team with 18 points and three assists. Hobbs was the only other Tiger in double figures with 13 points.
"I think Mississippi State might be the best defensive team we played all year," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "That was some tremendous, aggressive, physical, good defense. It took us out of a lot of things we like to do offensively and we had to play a lot of 1-on-1 basketball today and it is good that we have a lot of 1-on-1 basketball players.
Auburn tallied only eight field goals in the second half, but hit 12 of its 18 free-throw attempts to deny Mississippi State the home-court victory.
"We hit some big shots when we needed them, we hit some free throws when we needed them and it just feels good to get out of here with the win against a very good team," said Fortner.
Hobbs hit a free throw with 3:42 left in the game to tie it up, but Auburn faced a potential let-down when Bonner left the game after being hit in the head with 3:12 left. MSU took the lead on that ensuing possession, but senior Trevesha Jackson, who replaced Bonner in the lineup, hit a layup right away to tie the game for the last time.
Bonner returned to the game with 1:54 left in the game and drove the lane on Auburn's next offensive possession to give the Tigers a lead they would not give up.
"I think she (Bonner) is the best player in college basketball this year. She can play anywhere on the floor and defend any position on the floor, that is what makes her so valuable," said Fortner. "She was playing well and got hit in the head, and I was not sure if she was going to be able to come back in.
"But, big-time players want to play in big-time games. In those situations, they want the ball in their hand, so she came back in the game and finished it out."
Mississippi State opened up a 13-6 lead in the first half, taking its largest lead of the game, but Auburn bounced back with an 11-0 run to take a four-point lead with 8:57 remaining in the period. MSU would take the lead one more time, but Auburn held on to take a 35-29 lead into the locker room, its largest lead of the game.
Boddie shot 6-of-7 from the field in the first half to lead Auburn with 12 points, followed by Bonner with her 11 points after going a perfect 7-of-7 from the free-throw line. Bonner also led the Tigers with five rebounds in the half.
Alexis Rack led Mississippi State with eight points, shooting 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. Armelie Lumanu followed with six points and a team-best five rebounds.
In the second half, Mississippi State slowly chipped away at the Auburn lead, taking its first lead with 10:07 remaining in the game. The game would experience four lead changes and six ties in the second half before Auburn would be able to pull away for the win.
Rack led the Bulldogs with 15 points and six assists while Robin Porter picked up 13 points and eight rebounds. Lumanu led MSU with 10 rebounds while Chanel Mokango, the SEC's leading shot blocker, was held to just two blocks and six points.
As a team, Auburn shot 42.9 percent (21-of-49) from the field, including 52.0 percent in the first half. AU was only 1-of-3 from 3-point range with the lone trey coming at the hands of Hobbs. The Tigers were out-rebounded, 39-33, in the game but forced 20 MSU turnovers, compared to 17 of their own.
Mississippi State shot 38.3 percent (23-of-60) from the field, but were 6-of-19 from 3-point range for 31.6 percent. Rack, the SEC leader in 3-pointers per game, and Mary Kathryn Govero tallied two 3-pointers each. MSU was a near-perfect 6-of-7 from the free-throw line for 85.7 percent.
Bonner, with her 25 points, also hit a career milestone as she moved into third all-time at Auburn in career scoring. She passes Marianne Merritt (1975-79) on the list as she now has 1,992 career points, just 76 shy of Becky Jackson's (1980-84) record of 2,068. Bonner's 10 rebounds also moved her up on the career rebounding list as she passed Lauretta Freeman (1989-93) for fourth all-time at Auburn with her 983 career rebounds.
Also moving on the career scoring list was Boddie as she moved into Auburn's career top-30 with her 18 points. She now has 857 career points, good enough for 30th all-time.
Auburn returns to action Thursday as the Tigers travel to Nashville, Tenn., to take on No. 24 Vanderbilt. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT from Memorial Gymnasium, with the game being broadcast on Fox Sports South.
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