Dec. 28, 2005
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -
Nitasha Brown led all scorers with 19 points, including five from outside the arc, in Auburn's 69-54 win over UC Davis in the first round of the San Diego Surf `N Slam Tournament. The Auburn women's basketball team (8-4) advances to play Loyola in the championship game.
"UC Davis is a team that never quits so I felt the game was never over against a team that can shoot like they can," head coach Nell Fortner said. "DeWanna (Bonner) gave us a 20-point, which was important because you have to have that type of lead against them. We had six days off from practice over the holidays so I liked what I saw out there today."
Bonner contributed 17 points in the game including a bucket at 7:45 remaining in the game to put Auburn up by 21. Junior Joanna Clayden scored eight points on the night including two three-pointers and a jumper, which was the first two-point bucket of the season for the junior college transfer.
Brown scored six points and added four assists in the first half and ended the game with a career-best tying 19 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
"Brown is playing with tremendous confidence," Fortner said. "Her defense was already outstanding, but now she is starting to take pride in her shooting as well. This is her team and she is not afraid to take the tough shot anymore. We have needed her to step up into this role and she has done that."
UC Davis' final lead of the game came at 9-8 with 14:13 remaining in the first half, prompting a 15-0 Tiger run to take a 23-9 Auburn advantage. In the second half, Auburn had a 10-0 run midway through the second to take a 63-41 advantage. The Tigers held as much as a 23-point lead at 69-46 with 3:02 remaining the game. The field goal would be Auburn's last of the game.
For UC Davis, Heather Bates led the team off the bench with 17 points, including hitting 5-of-6 from three-point range.
On the night, Auburn shot over 44 percent from the field, holding the Aggies to 37 percent and out-rebounded UCD 40-to-31. The Tigers struggled from the free throw line, hitting just 8-of-20, while UC Davis capitalized on all six of its chances.
Auburn will now meet up with Loyola at 9:30 p.m. CT at Cox Arena in the championship game. Loyola defeated San Diego State 52-43. The Tigers also competed in the Surf `N Slam Tournament in 2001, falling in the first round to Iowa State, 75-80, and defeating Texas-San Antonio, 73-50, in the consolation game.