GREENVILLE, S.C. – Auburn could not hold onto a halftime lead as Georgia used a strong second half to defeat the Tigers, 56-52, in the second round of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament Thursday afternoon at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
The Tigers (17-14) forced Georgia into 16 first-half turnovers, turning those into 17 points, but were only able to coax two turnovers out of the Bulldogs (16-14) in the second half.
“I thought we played extremely well in the first half,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We forced them into 16 turnovers. I think the defensive pressure and energy wasn’t there in the second half, and we didn’t score like we needed to.”
Georgia overcame Auburn’s halftime advantage thanks to offensive rebounds and second-chance points – the first seven Bulldog points of the third quarter came on second-chance opportunities. Georgia finished with 15 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs only pulled down six more rebounds than the Tigers – an improvement from the teams’ regular-season meeting – but the second-chance points were key.
“It was huge,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It played a big role in the first game we played against them. They had 15 offensive rebounds in the first game and scored 19 points. They do a very good job on second-chance points, getting to the boards. We didn’t do a good job of boxing them out.”
Sophomore Janiah McKay led Auburn’s scoring with 13 points, but senior Katie Frerking led in every other category. Frerking finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, five steals and two blocks. Jazmine Jones matched a season-high with 10 points off the bench, and Jessica Jones pulled down six rebounds.
Auburn scored 22 points off Georgia’s 18 turnovers, but the Bulldogs outscored Auburn in the paint 28-18. Auburn made just six field goals in the second half – four of them 3-pointers – and shot 28.8 percent for the game. The Tigers matched a season-low with just seven turnovers.
The Tigers trailed 47-42 with just over seven minutes to play, but a pair of 3-pointers from McKay and Frerking tied the game 49-49 with 2:37 left. But Auburn would miss its next five shots while Georgia built a four-point lead in the final minute. A trey from McKay cut the deficit to one at 53-52 with 15 seconds left, but Georgia made just enough free throws down the stretch to thwart the comeback.
Auburn led 29-22 at halftime after forcing Georgia into 16 first-half turnovers, turning those into 17 points. The Tigers fell behind quickly 7-0, but out of a timeout, went on a 15-3 run over the next four minutes to take a 15-10 lead. After extending that lead to 23-16 three minutes into the second quarter, both teams went cold for the next five minutes, but the Tigers were able to score twice in the final minute to push the halftime lead back to seven points.
Georgia was led by Pachis Roberts with 15 points, Mackenzie Engram with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Caliya Robinson with 12 points.