HAMMOND, La. -- Auburn used a 25-0 run in the first half to build a big early lead, then held off a late rally for an 80-68 win at Southeastern Louisiana on Monday night in the Tigers' first road test of the season.
The Tigers (2-0) led by as many as 25 points early in the third quarter, but the Lady Lions (0-2) got hot from outside and cut the lead to as few as six points in the fourth before Auburn got two big plays from freshman Janiah McKay down the stretch to hold off the rally.
"We definitely got too complacent and too comfortable," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "And they got hot. We've got to be better than that. We've got to put our foot on the pedal and drive it hard. We can't sit back and relax."
Brandy Montgomery led the Tigers with 22 points and also contributed five rebounds and three steals. Montgomery hit three 3-pointers - all in the first quarter - and had 15 at halftime. Tra'Cee Tanner had 16 points and three steals, while McKay poured in 15 points off the bench. Katie Frerking finished with 13 points and game-highs in assists and rebounds (six apiece).
Auburn battled foul trouble late in the game as Tanner, Montgomery and McKay all missed significant minuteslate in the third and early in the fourth with three fouls each. Meanwhile, SLU's Taylin Anderson could not miss from outside, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring a total of 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Lady Lions made their run, cutting a 15-point Auburn lead at end of three to just six points with 4:44 to play.
But a Montgomery layup and a coast-to-coast drive from McKay put the Tigers' lead back at 10 points with 4:15 to play, and a highlight-reel reverse layup from McKay with 2:15 left put the game out of reach for SLU.
Underwood led the Lady Lions with a game-high 26 points while Nanna Pool scored 19.
Auburn shot 43.3 percent for the game despite going cold for much of the early part of the fourth quarter. The Tigers were also 17-of-23 at the free-throw line, key down the stretch. SLU shot 37.9 percent but hit nine 3-pointers.
After the teams traded several early 3-pointers and were tied 10-10 at the first media timeout, the Tigers finished the first quarter on a 15-0 run to take a 25-10 lead after one. That run continued more than three minutes into the second quarter, extended to a 25-0 streak to give the Tigers their biggest lead at 35-10 with just under seven minutes left in the half.
The Lady Lions finally got on the board and, in a foul-plagued second quarter, hit eight free throws and scored nine more from the field to cut the Auburn advantage to 46-27 at the break. Montgomery had 15 points in the first half, hitting three treys in the opening quarter as the Tigers shot 44.4 percent in the first 20 minutes.
Auburn employed numerous lineup combinations throughout the game as all 11 players on the roster saw playing time and 10 Tigers found their way onto the scoresheet.
The Tigers return to Auburn Arena to face the Virginia Cavaliers on Thursday, Nov. 19. Tip is set for 6 p.m., and the game will be televised by SEC Network.