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Auburn women march on in WNIT

AUBURN – The season goes on for Auburn’s women’s basketball team.

Hasina Muhammad scored 27 points for Auburn/Todd Van Emst photo

The Tigers and first-year head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy matched in the WNIT on Sunday, demolishing overmatched Western Kentucky 84-66 in a game not as close as the score.

“Much credit to our young ladies,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They really had to hang in there and had to fight. Western Kentucky was a team that kept coming at us. I think overall, as a team, we played really well.”

The Tigers improved to 18-14 and moved on to third round. They will play at home again Wednesday against Tulane, an 80-68 winner over Arkansas. Tipoff time is set for 6 p.m.

Auburn, with significant advantages in height and athleticism, made the advantages pay early and was never threatened in the second half. Auburn had a 44-16 advantage in points in the paint and a 25-8 advantage in second-chance points. The Tigers had 20 steals in their suffocating press and forced WKU into 26 turnovers that resulted in a 33-13 advantage in points off turnovers.

Junior Tyrese Tanner and sophomore Hasina Muhammad carried most of the load offensively. Muhammad scored 27 points. She had nine rebounds, eight of them on the offensive end. She had two assists and got three steals. Tanner scored 24 points, had three assists, four steals and three blocked shots.

The Hilltoppers tried to stay in the game on 3-point shots, going 8-for-15 in the first half. But Auburn played more man-to-man defense in the second half, and they hit just 2-of-16.

Western Kentucky had just one starter taller than 5-foot-9. Auburn had just one starter shorter than 6-foot-1.

“We knew Western Kentucky was a scrappy team,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They were going to double us in the post. They were a very good offensive rebounding team themselves. You think you have an advantage because of height, but you just never know really until the outcome of the game.”

Alexis Govan scored 23 points and Chastity Gooch 19 points to lead Western Kentucky.

Auburn defeated Tulane 70-65 in New Orleans on Nov. 28.

“I remember that we were struggling extremely hard to win that game,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They play hard. They’re a very good team, well-coached team. It was a tough game for us there. We really had to come back and play extremely well in the second half to get that victory.”

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