AUBURN – It was evident in the slumped shoulders of UAB players and in the passes that sailed off target and out of bounds. Auburn press was taking its toll.
Tyrese Tanner dominated UAB on both ends of the court/Todd Van Emst photo
Last Wednesday, in a first-round WNIT game at Auburn Arena, the Tigers used their suffocating press to race away from a 27-22 halftime lead to an 80-57 victory. They’ll try to do it again in the second round today against Western Kentucky. Tipoff time at Auburn Arena is set for 2 p.m.
Auburn enters the game with a 17-14 record. Western Kentucky is 22-10.
Pressuring full-court from start to finish is first-year Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy’s way, her only way. It’s the style she brought to Auburn from Georgetown.
“One thing our pressure defense does -and our players have learned is that over time – is teams begin to wear down,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I think that’s what happened to UAB. Our pressure wore them down and we were able to make a run to separate us from them.”
That pressure helped junior guard Tyrese Tanner score a career-high 29 points and get four steals against UAB. Quick and athletic at 6-foot-1, Tanner operates at the front of the press. She says she and her teammates thrive on opponents’ frustration.
“I think it’s really fun,” Tanner said. “It gets us excited. It helps us on the offensive end, gets our confidence back if we ever lose it. We know when they scout us they don’t have people on the floor like we do to actually prepare for it.”
Western Kentucky, an 88-77 winner over East Carolina in overtime, will start four players who are 5-foot-9 or shorter. Six-foot forward Chastity Gooch is the Hilltoppers’ tallest starter. Auburn will likely have only one starter shorter than 6-foot-1.
Sophomore guard Alexis Govan averages 20.3 points and 6.1 rebounds for Western Kentucky. Gooch averages 16 points and 11.3 rebounds. Hassina Muhammad leads Auburn in scoring with 14.1 points per game. Tanner averages 13.5 points per game and Blanche Alverson 12.7.
Tickets are $10 for reserved seating, $7 for general admission and $5 for students. The first 200 students with a valid Auburn Ignited card will receive free admission.