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Women open Auburn Arena with win

AUBURN -- The Auburn Arena is officially open.

Alli Smalley had 16 points in Auburn's season opening win over Mercer/Todd Van Emst photo

Alli Smalley and Jordan Greenleaf scored 16 points apiece to lead the Auburn women’s basketball team to a 79-61 win over Mercer Friday night in the first game at the new Auburn Arena.

“I was real pleased with the students,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. “They made a lot of noise and it was good to see them over there. Hopefully, we can continue to draw the students and fill it up on that bottom level.

“You’d could definitely hear it. There were times when it got pretty noisy. It was nice.”

A crowd of 2,459 watched as the Tigers substituted liberally with 12 players scoring at least one point. Auburn jumped on Mercer early and held a double-digit lead for much of the game, going into halftime up 40-20.

Mercer’s Briana Williams hit a 3-pointer to cut Auburn’s lead to 64-54 with less than six minutes remaining in the second half but Greenleaf erupted for eight of Auburn’s next 10 points as the Tigers stretched the lead back to 15 with less than three minutes to go.

“We we have our foot on someone’s neck and we’re beating them and we’re up on them, then we can’t keep letting them cut back into the lead,” Greenleaf said. “I felt like I just kind of had to take over a little bit.”

A junior, Greenleaf finished with a game-high 12 rebounds to notch the fourth double-double of her career.

Blanche Anderson added 11 points for the Tigers. Mercer was led by Williams, who had a game-high 23 points, making 5-of-10 3-pointers.

Auburn returns to action Monday night at home against Florida State. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.

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