Nov. 29, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Auburn's defense was too much to handle as the Tigers (4-2) downed Ball State (1-4), 67-51 in the first game of the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas. Freshman Brandy Montgomery led Auburn with 17 points while Tyrese and Tra'Cee Tanner added 14 each.
With junior Hasina Muhammad in the lineup for the first time this season, she led an Auburn defense that forced 29 Ball State turnovers, turning them into 39 points on the other end. The 39 points off turnovers are the most for the Tigers in the Coach Flo Era.
"This is one thing I am trying to get this team to understand - turnovers is what gives us our offense," said Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. "That's what they have to understand, we are in our press, we turn people over and that is how we score in transition."
Three different Ball State players committed six turnovers while Muhammad picked up six steals for the Tigers. Kiani Parker added four steals while Tra'Cee Tanner and Brandy Montgomery picked up a pair each.
"Once they figure out that our press is what wins ballgames for us, they will be a much better team," said Williams-Flournoy. "Hasina and Kiani did a very good job of getting into the passing lanes, they had 10 steals between the two of them."
Auburn never trailed in the game as the Tigers scored the first five points of the game to take an early lead. Ball State was able to tie it at 7-7, but it was all Auburn after that.
The Tigers pulled away, extending the lead to double figures on a Tra'Cee Tanner free throw with a little more than eight minutes left in the half. After leading by 17 points, the Tigers took a 35-19 lead into halftime. The 19 points are the fewest allowed by the Tigers in a half this season.
The lead was never in single digits again. Ball State made a push and cut it to 11 midway through the second half, but Auburn bounced back and led by as many as 20. The Tigers coasted the rest of the way for the 67-51 win.
For Montgomery, it was a career-high 17 points and her fourth double-digit scoring effort in her first five games as a Tiger. The Tanner sisters combined for 28 points and 12 rebounds while Muhammad scored 11 points with three rebounds, three blocks and six steals in her season debut.
Nathalie Fontaine led Ball State with 21 points and six rebounds. Eighteen of her points came in the second half while nine of her 21 came at the free-throw line. Jill Morrison added 15 points for the Cardinals.
Auburn will return to action in its second game of the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout at 9:30 p.m. CT, Saturday as the Tigers play No. 23/15 Iowa State. Fans can listen live on WGZZ 94.3 FM in Auburn and on AuburnTigers.com/AllAccess.