For Auburn’s women’s basketball team, defensive intensity has rekindled hope in a season that once seemed headed for disaster.
Auburn is 16-13 in Terri Williams-Flournoy's first season
Auburn and first-year head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy have turned up the defensive intensity and won three of their last five after suffering through an eight-game losing streak. The Tigers (16-13 and 5-11), the No. 11 seed, will play No. 22 LSU (19-10 and 10-6) tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga.
The game will be televised by SportsSouth and on ESPN3.
Auburn avoided playing on the first day of the tournament when they beat Mississippi State at home last Sunday on the final day of the regular season.
“You look at our last two games where we really made a conscious effort to up our defense,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Even though we did not win at Vanderbilt, we forced them into 26 turnovers. The thing I wanted out of that was for them to realize how many points did we score off of turnovers and that was thing that we did much better in against Mississippi State.
“We forced them into 31 turnovers and had 31 points off of those turnovers. They really are beginning to understand that it is our defense that is going to win more games for us because on our offensive end, sometimes you just do not know what you are going to get.”
LSU rolls into the game with six consecutive wins and seven in its last nine games, including a 59-55 decision at Auburn on Jan. 31.
“I thought our young ladies played a very good game at home,” said Williams-Flournoy said. “You look back at some of the mistakes; the costly turnovers are really what cost us the game. We did not really play that well in the first half, but we played well enough to continue to stay within the game.”
Auburn broke its eight-game losing streak with a blowout of Alabama at home, and Williams-Flournoy said her team’s mindset changed after that night.
“After going on an eight game losing streak, everything seems tough,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Just getting that win against Alabama really helped. Even in the losing streak we were not really getting beat down. We were in some really close games and had some chances to win some games. I think they just needed that win to get over the hump and that was the biggest thing.”
Three Auburn players are averaging double figures going into tonight’s game. Hasina Muhammad, a second-team All-SEC choice, averages 14.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Tyrese Tanner averages 13 points and 3.9 rebounds. Blanche Alverson averages 12.6 points and 5.9 rebounds. She scored a career-high 32 in the regular-season finale.