March 6, 2014
Tra'Cee Tra'Cee Tanner claims a rebound during Auburn's SEC Tournament win (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
DULUTH, Ga. - It didn't happen quickly and it didn't happen easily, but in the end Auburn's women's basketball team made amends for a distressing loss and moved on in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Five days after falling 73-71 in overtime in Oxford, The No. 6 seed Tigers (17-13) pulled away late and bounced No. 14 seed Ole Miss (12-20) 70-54 on Thursday night at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. They will play No. 3 seed Texas A&M on Friday night at 7:30 CST.
Auburn players watched Wednesday night as Ole Miss beat Arkansas, setting up a rematch. All-SEC senior Tyrese Tanner welcomed the opportunity.
"Oh, yes," Tanner said. "Whoever won we were going to come out and play hard, but it was good we got to play Ole Miss again and show who we really are."
The Tigers trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half before rallying for a 38-37 lead. Leading 54-52 with 7:56 left, they closed the game on a 16-2 run and held Ole Miss to 17 second-half points.
There was a time in the first half when it looked much like last Sunday's game. Point guard Valencia McFarland, who scored 27 last Sunday, had 20 in the first half Thursday. Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy put Tanner, who had a height advantage of almost a full foot, on McFarland and packed the inside to stop her drives. McFarland managed just three points in the second half.
Though the Tigers shot just 27.6 percent from the field in the second half on 8-of-21, they held Ole Miss to 20 percent on 6-of-30 and got the free throw line 17 times, going 22-for-27 for the game. They dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Rebels 49-32 and getting 18 offensive rebounds.
"I thought we did a much better job defensively in the second half," Williams-Flournoy said. "We definitely let McFarland get away from us in the first half. We also did a much better getting to the offensive boards."
Tyrese Tanner had a double-double, scoring 16 points and getting 12 rebounds. Tra'Cee Tanner was a force on the inside, scoring 17 points despite playing just 20 minutes because of foul trouble. Hasina Muhammad scored 11 points.
"We just played harder," Tyrese Tanner said. "I think the game at Ole Miss we didn't play hard. This game we played both halves hard and got the win."
As midnight neared, it was time to look ahead to a far more daunting challenge against Texas A&M (23-7). The Aggies won 71-54 at Auburn Arena on Jan. 30.
"Texas A&M is a very good team," Williams-Flournoy said. "They can attack you inside. They can go outside. We are really going to have to control their inside game. I thought they did a good job at our place defending us and taking away our point guard. We are going to have to do better with that."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: Follow @PMarshOnAU