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Auburn feels good about future as NCAA tourney run ends
March 20, 2016

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Auburn's Tra'Cee Tanner goes up against Baylor in NCAA Tournament play
Auburn's Tra'Cee Tanner goes up against Baylor in the NCAA Tournament 
 NCAA Second Round
 (9) Auburn
 (1) Baylor


By Charles Goldberg

WACO, Texas  Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy gave Baylor its due for its 84-52 win over her Tigers in the NCAA women's basketball tournament Sunday night.

Then she saluted Auburn.

"I'm just so proud of my team," she said. "No one expected us to be here. Their hard work and dedication to Auburn and their dedication to how we play just shows once again just how good of a team we are."

Auburn, picked to finish 13th in the SEC before the season began, made it to the NCAA Tournament's Round of 32 before running into the Dallas Region's No. 1-seeded Bears, who used their decided height advantage, and a decided home-court advantage, to race off to a quick lead in the tournament game.

The Tigers, seeded ninth, beat St. John's in a first-round game and finished with a 20-13 record. Baylor showed why it was seeded first in the region as it improved to 35-1 and will play next weekend against the winner of Monday's Texas A&M-Florida State game.

It was a tough draw for Auburn, playing the NCAA-experienced Bears, who were appearing in their 13th straight tournament. It was Auburn's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

Auburn headed home with Williams-Flournoy feeling good about the season, and the future.

"We knew what we had to do to prove to everyone else. Making it to the second round and playing a tough Baylor team," she said, shows "that we're a very good team and we're going to continue to be a very good team.

"We're always going to play hard, until that last zero clicks off the clock."

Brandy Montgomery led Auburn with 14 points. Tra'Cee Tanner added 13 in her last game. Katie Frerking scored 11. Williams-Flournoy looked at the roster and said things will be OK.

"We're only losing two. We have a lot of young people. The future is very bright for us," she said.

Tanner tied the Auburn record for games played in a career Sunday, appearing in her 132nd game. She said she'll remember her time fondly.

"It just means a lot that I've gained a family over these past four years," Tanner said. "I've gained different bonds with different people on the team, including the staff. But I'm just really grateful to have this opportunity and meet who I have met and have the relationships that I've had. I've gained a family away from my own, and they've taken care of me over these past four years."

The difference in NCAA experience between Auburn and Baylor showed early.

Auburn's usual solid defense had trouble against the taller Bears, who scored more points against the Tigers than anybody all season. Auburn's offense didn't help, either, committing 12 turnovers in the first quarter, putting the defense in jeopardy.

Baylor used its superior height to race out to a 23-8 first-quarter lead. When it was 37-12, Baylor was outscoring Auburn 28-6 in the paint. When it was 46-20 at the half, the advantage in the paint was 30-12.

Baylor led 68-39 after three quarters.

Baylor's Nina Davis scored 30 points.

"It's easy for her to score 30 points because she plays so hard. She's running in transition... I want me one of those," Williams-Flournoy said with a laugh.

But through it all, she said Auburn played on.

"In the halftime speech," Williams-Flournoy said, "it was just like 'we've got 20 more minutes just to play hard.' The last 10 minutes, 'we've got 10 more minutes to play hard.' We're going to continue to play hard. And our young ladies know they're always going to play hard."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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