AUBURN, Ala. – Daisa Alexander led all scorers with 21 points, and Auburn women’s basketball sent its five seniors out in style with a 60-55 victory over Ole Miss on Sunday at Auburn Arena.
It was the fifth win in six years on Senior Day for Auburn (14-14, 5-11 SEC), which picked up its 11th home victory of the season and secured a winning SEC record at home for the second time in three seasons.
With the win, Auburn clinched the No. 10 seed in this week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. The Tigers will face the No. 7 seed at 6 p.m. Thursday with the broadcast on SEC Network.
“For some reason we always get Ole Miss the last game of the year, either there or here, and this is usually how the game looks,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “All the time. It’s always a hard-fought game, but I thought our ladies did a great job of holding on. Ole Miss had nothing to lose. They were just playing as hard as they could.
“Honestly, at this point, the only way you’re going to build momentum (for the postseason) is if you get the win. Even if it’s only by one point, two point, it doesn’t matter. It’s a win. We’re going to play hard. We know we’re going to turn teams over. We turned them over 25 times today. We’re going to do that, but we can’t do all of that and not get the win. That’s what we did today.”
Alexander topped the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season on 7-of-12 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 day from beyond the 3-point arc. She also had three steals in the game. Unique Thompson added 15 points and nine rebounds, and Janiah McKay scored 12 points and had a game-high six assists.
The Tigers forced Ole Miss into 25 turnovers that turned into 22 Auburn points. It marks the 10th time this season for Auburn to force 25 or more opponent turnovers; the Tigers are 8-2 in those games. Auburn shot 40 percent (20-of-50) for the game and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point range.
Auburn’s second quarter was the difference in the game as the Tigers outscored Ole Miss 19-4 in the period to take a 34-22 lead into halftime. Auburn hit three 3-pointers in the period and held the Rebels to 13-percent shooting as the Tigers ended the period on a 14-2 run.
After Ole Miss cut into the Auburn lead early in the third quarter, the Tigers pushed it back to a 13-point advantage at 42-29. But the Rebels would end the period on an 8-0 run to make it a five-point game headed to the fourth.
In that fourth quarter, Alexander took over, scoring 10 of her 21 points in the final 10 minutes, hitting all three shots she took – two 3-pointers – and a pair of free throws. Despite getting only three rebounds in the final quarter, Auburn was able to force seven Ole Miss turnovers and turn those into nine points, holding off a Rebel team that got as close as four points with less than five minutes to play.
Madinah Muhammad led the Rebels with 14 points, and Promise Taylor had a double-double off the bench with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Sunday was the final home game for five Auburn senior players, who were honored in a post-game ceremony.
“(Jessica Jones, Jazmine Jones, Bria Johnson) have been here all four years, and I’m a little biased to the ones that have been here all four years,” Williams-Flournoy said. “If you can stay in our system, play in our system, and handle tough practices every single day, you get a little extra check on my part. Tiffany (Lewis) transferred in, she’s done a great job for us. She’s going to work hard every day in practice. She hasn’t shot the ball as well as she would have liked to, but that doesn’t stop her from working. She’s still in the gym every day shooting. She’s still out here early before every game shooting. Sira (Toure) just works hard. She’s a great student. All of them are great students. Three of them have already graduated, two are graduating in May. As a coach, when we talk about graduation, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”