MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Senior Katie Frerking scored a season-high 22 points, but No. 23 Auburn could not overcome foul trouble and a big rebounding deficit Thursday night in a 71-66 loss at Kansas State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Tigers (6-2) had three players -- two key rebounders -- foul out and saw an early rebounding advantage turned into a big deficit by the end of the game. Despite that, the Tigers rallied to take a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter but could not hang on.
"When our starting five player gets in foul trouble, then we're coming off the bench smaller than what we were already, that hurt us," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "But at the end of the day, we've got to box out. And boxing out is effort, you've got to make an effort to get in front of somebody. We've got to defend and rebound, that's how we win basketball games."
Frerking's 22 points led all scorers as the Tigers shot 37 percent (23-of-62) from the field. Auburn hit a season-high eight 3-pointers, three of them from Brandy Montgomery, who finished with 11 points. Janiah McKay added 15, and Emari Jones finished with a season-high eight. Auburn also had its best free-throw shooting night of the season, hitting 12-of-14 attempts (85.7%).
K-State (7-0) was 47 percent from the floor (24-of-51), led by a 16-point night from Kindred Wesemann. The Wildcats pulled down 39 rebounds to Auburn's 25, and the much taller Wildcats scored 32 points in the paint to Auburn's 22.
Auburn moved ahead by five with just over five minutes to play after a sequence where McKay got a steal and a score, then Frerking got fouled and was the beneficiary of a K-State technical. She made all four free throws to put Auburn ahead 62-57. Wesemann answered quickly with a 3-pointer, and the Tigers made just one of their final seven field goal attempts as the Wildcats finished the game on a 15-4 run.
K-State led 34-32 after a first half that featured big runs by both teams. The Tigers, who outrebounded the Wildcats in the first quarter 14-3, led by as many as 10 early in the second quarter. However, the Wildcats stormed back with a 13-2 run to take a 26-25 lead with 4:00 to play. The teams traded buckets the rest of the way as the lead changed hands four times in the first half.
Auburn dealt with foul trouble early as Erica Sanders picked up three in the first half and both Jazmine and Jessica Jones had two by halftime. The trouble continued as all three fouled out and Frerking finished with four fouls.
After a nine-day break for final exams, the Tigers return to action Sunday, Dec. 11, as Savannah State visits Auburn Arena. Game time is set for 2 p.m., and tickets are available at AUBTix.com.