AUBURN, Ala. – Junior Janiah McKay led four players in double-figures as the Auburn women’s basketball team pulled away in the second half for a 70-44 win over Xavier University of Louisiana on Thursday night at Auburn Arena.
The Tigers (9-3) won their sixth straight game to wrap up non-conference play and head into the SEC season having won all six of those games by double digits. Auburn’s six-game winning streak is its longest since earning nine straight victories during the 2012-13 season.
“We played much better defense in the second half,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “You could definitely tell that we’d been off since the 19th. We were a little sluggish to start. I thought once we finally got going, that’s when the back line started doing a little better, and Jaz (Jones) just works really hard at the top of the press.
McKay finished with 17 points and tied a career-high with six steals along with three assists and two rebounds. Sophomore Daisa Alexander had a strong night across the board as well with 13 points, a team-leading six rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Freshman Abigayle Jackson had a career-high 12 points off the bench along with four rebounds and a pair of blocks. Senior Jazmine Jones scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds on her 22nd birthday.
“We’re putting people in different positions right now,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We’re asking a lot of them, to do different things right now. Because you just never know. Daisa’s helping out at the point, Abi came in and did well. Our bench ended up with 37 points, that’s great. We need our bench.”
The Tigers’ trademark pressure defense made the difference once again as Auburn forced 30 Xavier turnovers, turning those into 28 points. Auburn controlled the paint as well, scoring 40 points inside. The Tigers’ bench contributed more than half the scoring with 37 of Auburn’s 70 points.
Auburn shot 43.3 percent for the night and held Xavier to a 32.1-percent effort. Despite Auburn’s size advantage, however, the Gold Nuggets outrebounded the Tigers 38-36.
A scoring drought late in the second quarter allowed Xavier to cut the Tigers’ halftime advantage to just seven points at 27-20. But Auburn opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run and pushed that advantage to 18 points after three quarters.
Mikayla Bates led Xavier with nine points, and Maya Trench had eight rebounds.
The Tigers open Southeastern Conference play at 3 p.m. Sunday as the Florida Gators visit Auburn Arena. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN2.