AUBURN – It came from nowhere, the cold streak that descended on Auburn’s women’s basketball team Saturday night. And by the time it ended, it was too late.
Hasina Muhammad puts up a jump Lauren Barnard photo
In the quarterfinals of the WNIT at Auburn Arena, Auburn jumped quickly to a 5-0 lead. The smaller Dragons took a 13-8 lead. Blanche Alverson hit her second 3-pointer to cut it to 13-11 lead with 11:13 left. Then it happened.
Auburn missed 15 consecutive shots, most of them of wide-open, even uncontested. Drexel finished the first half on a 17-1 run. The Tigers never recovered, falling 56-53 to end their season.
For head Terri Williams-Flournoy, the final game of her first season was major disappointment. But she said the Tigers three wins in the WNIT was a sign of things to come.
“Everything we could have done wrong, we did,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We are a much better team than what we showed today. However, I am very proud of our young ladies. Like I just told them in the locker room, when we had our eight game losing streak they could have just taken a dive. They could have said the season is done and given up. That is not what they did. They came back and played extremely well and made a run in the WNIT.
“…Like I told our seniors, they should be very proud of themselves. They wanted to be better than what they were last year. They wanted to have a great senior season, and for those returning, they need to feed off of this and understand that the standard has been set and the expectations are very high.”
Auburn scored the first six points of the second half and briefly had hope of a comeback. But Drexel answered with a 6-0 run of its own and eventually led by as many as 21 points.
Despite foul trouble, junior Tyrese Tanner led Auburn with 15 points. Senior Blanche Alverson scored 15 in the final game of a sparkling career.
After making just 4-of-28 shots in the first half, Auburn shot 27.4 percent for the game.
“We felt like there was a lid on the basket,” an emotional Alverson said after the game. “We were missing easy layups in the paint. We would get o-boards, but we could not finish. I felt like nothing we shot was going in. Being behind 18 at the half, it was hard to come back from.”
Auburn finished its season with a 19-15 record. Drexel improved to 26-10.