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From Auburn Media Relations
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Auburn women’s basketball team stayed neck and neck with No. 13 South Carolina the majority of the game, but was never able to overcome the Gamecocks, as Auburn fell, 59-51, Sunday in Columbia, S.C. The Tigers fell to 13-9 (2-7 SEC), while South Carolina improved to 19-3 (7-2 SEC). Auburn got within two points late in the game, but South Carolina got 13 of its final 17 points from the free throw line to pull away.
“I thought we played extremely hard,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. There were some crucial times where we turned the ball over and just weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be just holding the ball. We told them at times, they were just reaching trying to take it from us.”
Auburn’s Tanner sisters led the Tigers in scoring, as Tyrese and Tra’cee each tallied 10 points apiece. Hasina Muhammad earned just seven points on the afternoon, as her double-figure scoring streak came to an end at 23-straight games dating back to the 2011-12 season.
In addition to freshman Tra’cee Tanner’s effort off the bench, freshman Chadarryl Clay added seven points and three rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench while Cabriana Capers led the Tigers in rebounding with seven.
“That’s what a team has to rely on,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Sometimes your scorers just aren’t going to score because there’s a scouting report. (South Carolina’s) goal was to take Blanche out and take Hasina out, and I thought they did a really good job of that. A few times I thought we missed Tra’cee inside. She was open, and she was scoring. At that time, that’s when Hasina and Blanche have to understand, you have to be able to make a strong pass inside. We have to get it to the person that’s open.”
The Tigers managed to out-rebound the Gamecocks, 35-28, who were averaging more than 10 rebounds per game more than opponents prior to today’s game, but fouls and the 3-point line plagued Auburn to keep it from the win. South Carolina hit six treys to Auburn’s two and went 19-of-28 from the stripe, while the Tigers hit just 5-of-9.
It was a close first half as the teams battled back and forth in the opening minutes. Despite South Carolina taking the lead for good at 17-15 with 8:19 to play in the opening half, Auburn never let the lead grow beyond nine points, and the Gamecocks took just a six point lead into the locker room at 28-22.
Shooting trouble hurt the Tigers in the second half, as Auburn shot just 38.2 percent from the floor for the half, allowing South Carolina to keep the lead. The Tigers managed to create just 13 turnovers on the day, while Auburn turned it over 15 times.
Having chipped away at the Gamecocks’ lead throughout the final 20 minutes, the Tigers cut the lead to two with just under three minutes to play on a jumper from Tra’cee Tanner, but a layup and a free throw subsequently gave South Carolina a five-point lead.
Tyrese Tanner hit a shot to put Auburn within three with 2:15 to play, but the Tigers would be called for three fouls that led to five made free throws for the Gamecocks to put the game out of reach with just 25 seconds remaining.
South Carolina finished with three players in double figures, as Khadijah Sessions led with 19 points and Aleighsa Welch and Tiffany Mitchell each added 10. Ieasia Walker also added eight points, five assists and four steals in the effort.
Auburn returns to action Thursday as it travels to Athens, Ga., to take on No. 13/14 Georgia. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT.
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