Dec. 15, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn's women's basketball team was sputtering Sunday night at Auburn Arena. Florida A&M was hanging uncomfortably close. But as the second half unfolded, Auburn's press stymied Florida A&M's offense and eventually broke its spirit.
With 17:04 left in the game, Hassina Muhammad hit a routine layup to extend Auburn's lead to 45-37. For the next 10:08, the Rattlers didn't score. They had trouble even getting the ball across halfcourt and were called for two backcourt violations.
The Tigers were off on a blistering 30-0 run that left the Rattlers stunned and beaten. After trailing early in the game and leading just 37-30 at halftime, Auburn romped to a 92-55 victory, shooting 70.6 percent from the field in the second half, and ran its record to 7-3. Florida A&M fell to 6-5.
It was the defense, head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said, that fueled the Tigers second-half romp. Florida A&M wilted in the face of Auburn's full-court pressure.
Forward Tyrese Tanner said that's what Williams-Flournoy's pressing defense is designed to do.
"We can tell we are wearing teams down, especially their point guards," Williams said. "They get more careless when they are tired."
Florida A&M had six 3-pointers in the first half, but the Tigers had 16 steals, including four apiece by Tanner and Hasina Muhammad, and forced 26 turnovers. They gave up just one 3-point basket in the second half.
"It's a good night when we are turning people over and scoring off the turnovers," Williams-Flournoy said. Defensively, I thought Tyrese did a great job in the second half. We really upped the pressure."
Center Peyton Davis, who scored 19 points and had four rebounds off the bench, said the layoff had an impact on the Tigers early.
"I kind of expected us to come out a little slow," Davis said. "We've been practicing, but it's a whole lot different to get on the court. It took a while to get the rust off. The 3-pointers were killing us. Most of the points were coming from 3's. We had to start running them off the line, and it really helped."
Davis and Tanner led four players in double figures with 19 points apiece. Muhammad, who sat out the first five games for a violation of team rules, had 18 and freshman Brandy Montgomery 10.
Auburn won its third straight and fourth in five games. Presbyterian visits Auburn Arena on Wednesday night at 6.
Jasmine Grice led Florida A&M with a game-high 21 points, going 7-of-24 from the field.
For the game, the Tigers hit 39-of-71 from the field for 54.9 percent and 14-of-23 from the free throw line for 60.9 percent. They did not make a 3-pointer, going 0-for-8.
Florida A&M shot 32.3 percent from the field on 20-of-62 and 25.9 percent from the 3-point line on 7-of-27. They were 8-of-9 at the free throw line.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: