FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Auburn used a 30-point fourth quarter to fight back from a seven-point deficit to end the regular season with a 70-64 win at Arkansas Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers (17-13, 7-9 SEC) shot 62.5 percent in the fourth quarter after two offensively challenged periods that saw the Razorbacks (13-16, 2-14) build a seven-point lead going into the final quarter. But Auburn opened the period on a 17-5 run and never trailed again.
Auburn will be the No. 9 seed in the SEC Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Greenville, S.C. The Tigers will face Georgia at 11 a.m. Thursday in the first game of the second round.
“It was unbelievable,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We could not buy a basket in the second or third quarter. But once again, it was our defense that got us back. We made great defensive plays and scored in transition (in the fourth quarter).”
Three players finished in double-figures for Auburn. Brandy Montgomery led the Tigers with 18 points, Janiah McKay had 17 and Katie Frerking had 16. Eleven of McKay’s 17 points came in the pivotal fourth quarter, and Frerking had her sixth double-double with 10 rebounds. She also had five assists, three blocks and two steals.
Auburn shot 35.3 percent for the game, but was 50 percent or better in the first (50%) and fourth (62.5%). The Tigers hit eight 3-pointers and were 14-of-19 at the free-throw line. The Tigers scored 19 points off 19 Arkansas turnovers. Auburn had just seven turnovers, a season-low.
Auburn trailed 47-40 headed to the fourth quarter, but scored six points in the first minute to cut it to a one-point deficit. A McKay jumper with 6:52 to play gave Auburn its first lead since early in the second quarter, and the Tigers would not trail again. After Auburn had increased its lead to seven points at 64-57, Arkansas cut it to two with late free throws and a big 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds, but Montgomery and Erica Sanders sealed the win at the free-throw line.
Two long scoring droughts for Auburn – a 6-minute stretch to open the second quarter and a 5-minute run to start the third – allowed Arkansas to maintain a slim lead. Auburn kept it within two points with two minutes to play in the third, but the Hogs ended the period on a 5-0 run.
A Frerking 3-pointer to beat the first-quarter buzzer gave Auburn a 20-15 lead after one period; it was Auburn’s highest-scoring opening quarter since scoring 30 against Ole Miss on Jan. 8. But Arkansas opened the second period on an 11-0 run over the first 2:50 to take a 26-20 lead and force an Auburn timeout.
The Tigers would fight back and tie the game 31-31 on a Montgomery 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play, but Arkansas’ Malica Monk would heave a 25-footer that went as the halftime buzzer sounded to give the Razorbacks a 34-31 halftime lead.
Arkansas had five players in double figures, led by Jessica Jackson and Devin Cosper with 14 apiece. Jackson and Alecia Cooley had double-doubles as Arkansas outrebounded the Tigers 45-37.