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2nd-half charge lifts AU women

AUBURN – Down by as many as 15 points in the first half, Auburn’s women’s basketball team came back hard Sunday at Auburn Arena. The Tigers wiped out a 10-point halftime deficit with a 21-3 run and ran away to a 67-59 victory over Missouri.

Hasina Muhammad scored 13 points in Auburn's win over Missouri/Anthony Hall photo

The Tigers improved to 15-12 overall and 4-10 in the Southeastern Conference in head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy’s first season. Missouri fell to 15-13 and 4-10.

“It was definitely a better second half than first half,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I think a lot of times, when you are playing a team like Missouri, they do start hitting the 3 and then you start remembering things that you shouldn’t remember, like our game at Missouri. I think, at halftime, we regrouped ourselves and played very good defense.”

Blanche Alverson led Auburn in scoring with her fifth-consecutive double-figure game, posting 19 points and seven rebounds with five assists and two steals.

With her 19 points, Alverson moved into 23rd all-time on Auburn’s career scoring list with 1,143 points.

Hasina Muhammad added 13 points and tied her career high with four blocks, while Tyrese Tanner and Chadarryl Clay each tallied 11. In her first career start, freshman Cabriana Capers added seven points and seven rebounds in a strong defensive effort for Auburn.

Missouri led for more than 15 minutes of the first half after a 12-0 run gave the team its largest lead at 15 with 7:10 to play in the first. Missouri carried a 10-point lead into the locker room as Auburn trailed 41-31 at halftime. Missouri shot 58.3 percent from the floor in the opening half, the highest opponent shooting percentage in a single half against Auburn this season.

After Alverson and Missouri’s leading scorer, Morgan Eye, traded 3-pointers to open the second half, Auburn began to chip away at Missouri’s lead. A jumper from Alverson cut the lead to two points with just under 12 minutes to play, and an ensuing block and a layup from Hasina Muhammad tied the game at 47 with 11:22 to go.

Auburn took its first lead since 15:58 in the first half on a jumper and free throw from Alverson to make it 50-47 with 10:42 remaining. An 18-0 Auburn run made its lead as many as eight with 9:28 remaining, and Auburn increased that lead to nine with 4:40 to go.

Defense proved to be the key for Auburn as it held Missouri to just four field goals in the second half. Missouri went without a field goal for more than 11 minutes (19:32-8:05) to start the half and then again for another four minutes late in the game (8:05-3:55).

Auburn forced 19 Missouri turnovers on 12 steals, and scored 20 points off the Missouri Turnovers.

“I think they just turned up the heat there in the second half,” Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton said. “I thought they played extremely physical. We didn't match that physicality.”

In contrast to its first half performance, Missouri shot 16.7 percent (4-of-22) in the second half, the lowest opponent shooting percentage in a single half against Auburn this season.

Eye led Missouri with 18 points, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, while Bri Kulas added 14 points.

Sunday’s game was also a Ballin’ For Books game with fans encouraged to donate new or gently-used books to senior Blanche Alverson’s community service program. Auburn fans showed a great response with more than 400 books donated Sunday. Fans will also have opportunities to donate prior to the men’s game against Vanderbilt on Saturday and the women’s regular-season finale against Mississippi State next Sunday.

Auburn returns to action Thursday at Vanderbilt (18-9, 8-6) at 8 p.m.

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