Dec. 2, 2006
RENO, Nev. - It took Auburn more than 10 minutes to get going, but a strong finish to the first half and an even stronger start to the second gave Auburn a 51-43 win over UC Riverside Saturday night at the Nugget Classic in Reno, Nev. The win gave the Tigers a 2-0 record in the three-team, round-robin tournament. DeWanna Bonnder was named MVP and Tamela McCorvey was voted to the All-Tournament team.
"It took us a while to get warmed up," Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said. "I'm still not sure that we ever warmed up, but we put together a couple of runs that were the difference."
Bonner led three Tigers in double figures with 12 points. Trevesha Jackson netted 11, and McCorvey scored 10.
The Tigers put distance between themselves and the Highlanders with an 18-4 run to start the second period. It gave Auburn a 37-25 lead, and UC Riverside never got closer than eight points again. Auburn increased its lead to 13 at 49-36 with a McCorvey jumper at the 1:37 mark.
The Highlanders jumped out to a 16-6 advantage early as Auburn missed 14 of its first 17 shots. UC Riverside's Kemie Nkele nailed a three with 7:19 left in the first half to make the score 19-8, but the bucket was the Highlanders' last in the frame. Auburn closed the period on an 11-2 run to climb within two points at 21-19.
The Tigers were lucky to only trail at halftime by two after making only six shots on 26 attempts (23.1%) in the first period. UC Riverside wasn't much better, making only seven shots on 27 attempts (25.9%). Auburn finished the game 17-of-53 (32.1%), while UC Riverside shot 16-of-57 (28.1%).
Auburn was 16-of-19 from the line in the game, which gave them their best free-throw shooting percentage of the season at 84.2 percent.
The Highlanders' 43 points was the fewest Auburn has allowed this season. Nkele scored 19 to lead UC Riverside.
Bonner scored 24 points to lead Auburn over tournament host Nevada 84-75 on Friday night, making Saturday's contest the championship game for the Tigers.
Auburn returns to Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 6 for a 5:30 p.m. CT tilt with Jackson State.