Nov. 28, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -
The Auburn women's basketball team (3-2) will wrap up its five-game road swing this weekend as the Tigers play at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas, Nev. Auburn will take on Ball State (1-3) at 2 p.m. CT, Friday before facing No. 23/15 Iowa State (4-0) at 9:30 p.m. CT, Saturday.
The tournament is the first of the year for the Tigers. Auburn will also play at the Subway Classic in December in Minneapolis, Minn.
"I think one of the luxuries of college basketball is to travel," said Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. "It is something they get to talk about when they are old, back in the day what they use to do. It is a great trip, and a great opportunity to be able to travel to Las Vegas. It's also a good tournament for us to be playing in."
Playing in a tournament setting, with a quick turnaround in between games, is also a benefit. Williams-Flournoy hopes the tournament gives the team a taste of what to expect down the road.
"That's usually why you play in a tournament, so you can get used to doing a quick scouting report, trying to remember everything and still going out to play, even though most of the time, you are not going to change a whole lot when it's that many games," said Williams-Flournoy. "But, you still want to test them early, and get them use to quickly learning about a team and going out and doing what you need to do."
Auburn will open the tournament with Ball State. The Cardinals return all five starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team that went 17-16 and advanced to the third round of the Women's NIT. Ball State has struggled to start the 2013-14 season, dropping their first three games against Purdue (63-57), Pittsburgh (63-58) and Evansville (80-69) before getting their first win against Detroit Mercy (80-74).
"We have a tough game ahead of us with great 3-point shooters. Although they are not very big, they are excellent shooters," said Williams-Flournoy. "They can put the ball on the floor, create off the bounce and they just love the drive-and-kick. So far this season, we have not defended well at the 3-point line, so it should be a challenge for us."
BSU is led by Nathalie Fontaine with 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Brittany Carter is right behind her with 15.3 points while Shelbie Justice averages 11.0 points per game. A good outside-shooting team, the Cardinals average seven 3-pointers per game, hitting them at a .350 clip.
Under the direction of longtime coach Bill Fennelly, Iowa State returns three starters and eight letterwinners from last season's team that went 24-9 and finished second in the Big 12, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"Iowa State is a very good team, and having coached with Bill Fennelly in USA Basketball, his offensive mind is incredible," said Williams-Flournoy. "They run a lot of sets. It is going to be very hard to even try to remember everything they are going to do, so I think it's just a great opportunity for us to play two very good teams this weekend."
ISU is led by Hallie Christofferson with 26.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The Cyclones are averaging 84.8 points per game and are a perfect 4-0 on the season.
Fans can listen to both games locally on 94.3 FM WGZZ in Auburn with Andy Burcham and Stephanie Follett calling the action. An audio Webcast and live stats will be available at AuburnTigers.com.