AUBURN, Ala. –Three players scored in double-figures to lead the Auburn women’s basketball team to a 63-53 victory over North Carolina A&T on Thursday night, the 900th victory in program history.
Junior Janiah McKay scored 15 points and added a career-high eight rebounds to go along with five assists and four steals, leading the Tigers (1-1) to their 39th consecutive victory in a home opener, a streak that dates back to 1978.
“As you can see, it’s a whole new team out there on the floor,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “A different team … but still playing our pressure defense and doing what we do.
“It makes a difference when you have some post players. Jessica [Jones] is doing a great job. It helps when you have players being able to compete in practice. This year, she has Justice [Wright] in practice and Unique [Thompson] in practice. Now, they’re really competing in practice, and that makes a difference. The post players are doing a very good job, but also Janiah [McKay] is doing a great job. I really thought we shot too many 3s tonight. We were 4-of-18, so we really need to attack the basket more and get more points in the paint.”
A 20-4 run that spanned the last part of the second quarter and the first five minutes of the third pushed the Tigers to a lead they would not relinquish. After A&T took a 24-23 lead with 2:04 to play in the second quarter, the Tigers finished the period on an 8-0 run, sparked by four points from Daisa Alexander and back-to-back layups from McKay and Jessica Jones to give Auburn a 31-24 lead at the half.
The run continued into the third quarter as Auburn pushed its lead to 44-28 halfway through the period. The Aggies (1-2) would get as close as eight points in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but never seriously threatened the Auburn lead after halftime.
Alexander added 12 points off the bench, and Unique Thompson had 11 points with seven rebounds. Jessica Jones added 10 rebounds off the bench, and Emari Jones, making her first career start, had six points and six rebounds.
Auburn shot 41.0 percent from the field and held the Aggies to a 35.4-percent night. At the free-throw line, Auburn showed improvement from its first game, hitting 9-of-16 attempts (56.3%). The Tigers also out-rebounded the Aggies 44-27 and outscored A&T in the paint 38-16.
Cinia McCray led A&T with 14 points and Kala Green added 13.
In its 47th season of women’s basketball, Auburn now owns an all-time record of 900 wins and 455 losses. Auburn is the 24th team in NCAA history to reach the 900-win plateau.
The Tigers return to action Sunday night as Louisiana Tech visits Auburn Arena. Game time is set for 6 p.m.; the game is part of a doubleheader with the Auburn volleyball team, which faces Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m.