Women's Basketball Ready For Sun & Fun Classic Opener Against UNC-Charlotte
Dec. 28, 2011
MIAMI, Fla. - The Auburn women's basketball team (7-4) will return to action following its week-long Holiday break on Thursday as the Tigers face North Carolina-Charlotte (6-5) in the first round of the Florida International Sun & Fun Classic. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT, from FIU's U.S. Century Bank Arena.
The Tigers are coming off a 49-40 win over Central Connecticut State in the consolation game of the New York Life Holiday Invitational hosted by Hofstra. With one more tournament on the schedule before the start of Southeastern Conference play, Auburn head coach Nell Fortner is excited for another opportunity to play for a championship.
"Anytime you get a chance to play for a championship in a tournament environment is a good, positive thing for your team," said Fortner. "We have another opportunity to do that right before the opening of our SEC season, so we would like to have a tremendous effort and see what we can do."
A big piece to that could be freshman Hasina Muhammad, this week's SEC Freshman of the Week. Muhammad has scored in double figures in seven games this season and currently leads Auburn in scoring with 10.7 points per game. She averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.5 steals per game last week to lead the Tigers.
"I am really proud of Hasina, she is really starting to come into her own a little bit as far as understanding what she is capable of doing and having the confidence to go out there and do it," said Fortner. "She is a very skilled player, she is just trying to continue to learn her way around as a freshman. She has had a pretty good year and we are looking forward to more of the same."
Getting through the week will be no easy task for Auburn as the Tigers prepare to play three games in four days. Auburn will play UNC-Charlotte on Thursday, followed by either host FIU or Albany on Friday. The Tigers will then make a quick trip back home to prepare for a 2 p.m., Sunday game against defending SEC champion Tennessee at Auburn Arena.
"It is a tough stretch, it is hard to believe that is how it all came out," said Fortner. "The timing of this tournament is not ideal with the start of the SEC season, but you have to be tough and this just adds an opportunity to get tougher."
The first step in Auburn's tough week is Charlotte. After winning its first five games of the season, UNC-Charlotte has struggled lately, dropping five straight before ending the streak with an 87-63 win over North Carolina A&T.
The 49ers have played a challenging schedule with games against Virginia Tech, Florida, Florida State and Ohio State. Charlotte took an overtime win over the Hokies before suffering single-digit losses to the Gators and Seminoles.
Epiphany Woodson is leading the team this season with 13.7 points per game, followed by Jennifer Hailey with 13.0. Hailey and Amanda Dowe lead the team in rebounding with 8.7 boards per game.
"Charlotte is a very nice team and will definitely be a challenge for us," said Fortner. "They have lost a few games lately, but they have played a tough schedule and have been right there in those games. Charlotte is fast, has really good guard play and they are quick and shoot the ball well."
Live stats and a video Webcast will be available at GoHofstra.com. Tiger fans can listen to the game live on WMXA 96.7 FM and AuburnTigers.com with play-by-play from Robert Smith and color commentary from Arnika Edwards.
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