Feb. 19, 2006
AUBURN - It was Senior Day as the Auburn women's basketball team played its last home game of the season Sunday vs. Florida, and the Tigers' two seniors went out in style with help from the freshman class as Auburn defeated the Gators, 73-58.
Seniors Marita Payne and Nitasha Brown combined for 25 points for Auburn, which beat Florida for the first time since 2003 and avenged a 72-61 loss earlier this month in Gainesville. Meanwhile, Auburn's freshmen accounted for 41 points to help the Tigers stop a four-game losing skid and improve to 13-12 overall and 4-8 in the SEC. Florida, which was coming off a 79-78 overtime upset of No. 2 LSU, fell to 19-7 overall and 7-6 in the league.
"It was a good win for us," said head coach Nell Fortner. "It was a complete effort by this team and it was nice to get that effort. We were trying to make the best things happen."
Freshman DeWanna Bonner led Auburn with her fourth double-double of the season and third in a row, scoring a game high 16 points and adding 10 rebounds. Payne had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Brown totaled 11 points and four steals for Auburn. Freshman Whitney Boddie was the fourth Tiger in double figures, collecting 10 points with six assists.
Auburn, which never trailed during Sunday's contest, scored the game's first five points, starting with a Brown three-pointer. Florida was within 20-18 after a three-point play by Dalila Eshe, but a jumper by Payne and a Joanna Clayden three-pointer stretched the lead back to 25-18.
Boddie found Bonner for a layup with four seconds left in the first half, giving the Tigers a 36-25 edge at the break and completing a 16-7 spurt to end the opening period.
"The surge that we had at the end of the half made a big difference in our confidence going into the half," said Fortner. "To feel good about what you're doing is important."
Freshman KeKe Carrier scored all eight of her points and had seven boards during the first half alone, while Boddie totaled eight points and dished out four assists in the first 20 minutes to help the Tigers take command.
Auburn stretched its advantage early in the second half as a layup by Payne gave the Tigers a 43-31 lead with 15:35 left. Florida closed within 45-39 with 12:47 remaining, but Brown buried a three-pointer to start a 15-4 run, and capped it with a jumper that gave Auburn its biggest lead at 60-43 with 6:27 left.
Florida made a late surge to cut the deficit to 64-56 with 1:39 still remaining, but Auburn sank seven straight free throws to help put the game away.
Auburn shot 49.1 percent from the field (28-of-57) while holding Florida to just 35.5 percent shooting (22-of-62). The Tigers had a 40-35 rebounding advantage and committed just 11 turnovers - their lowest total since posting a season-low nine turnovers Nov. 26 vs. George Mason.
Eshe led Florida with 25 points, while Sha Brooks added 18 for the Gators.
Auburn will now travel to No. 5 Tennessee Thursday for a 6 p.m. CT matchup on FOX Sports South and will round out the regular season Sunday at Georgia.