'Awesome' Tanner ignites Tigers

AUBURN – Tyrese Tanner was a force inside, a force outside and a force on defense Wednesday night. And she led Auburn’s women’s basketball team to an 80-57 rout of UAB at Auburn Arena in the first round of the WNIT.

Tyrese Tanner scored 19 of her 29 points in the second half/Todd Van Emst photos

First-year Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, asked to describe Tanner’s performance, flashed a big smile.

“Tyrese was awesome, wasn’t she?” Williams-Flournoy said.

Tanner, a 6-foot-1 junior from Hoover High School, scored a career-high 29 points, 19 in the second half. She added four steals, two assists, two blocks and three rebounds.

“I thought she was all over the floor,” Williams-Flournoy said. “She led us in our press. When Ty is so active at the top of the press, it’s hard to pass over her. She causes a lot of havoc. Offensively, in the half court, I thought she did a really good job of attacking the basket and using her height to shoot over the smaller guards.”

Auburn (17-14) beat UAB (18-13) for the 16th consecutive time and advanced to play the winner of Thursday’s game between Western Kentucky and East Carolina in the second round.

Auburn led just 27-22 at halftime and 27-24 after UAB scored the first basket of the second half. But from there, the Tigers broke away. They had their biggest half of the season, outscoring the Blazers 53-25.

“I felt like the first half all of us were sloppy in executing our plays,” Tanner said. “In the second half, I think we executed pretty well and got open shots.”

Just three days after returning from spring break, Williams-Flournoy said she could see the effects of a week away from basketball.

“It was definitely a better second half than in the first half, but that’s really to be expected having had a week off for spring break,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They still had a little sand in between their toes and in between their ears and everything else.

“I thought they really came back in the second half and played with a lot of intensity and great effort, especially in our press.”

Auburn’s press created all sorts of problems for the Blazers, who had 23 turnovers. Auburn had a 30-13 edge in points off turnovers and a 22-6 edge in second-chance points.

“I told them at halftime this was a team that had played well and was a very good team that at any time could make a run on us if we continued to play as badly as we did,” Williams-Flournoy said. “And at this stage, it is one and done. So I told them ‘everybody that wishes you could get a break and you’re tired and all that, you’re about to get it if you don’t play better.’ I think when they cut it to that three it kind of woke us up.”

Center Peyton Davis scored 11 points for the Tigers and had seven rebounds. After missing her first seven shots, Blanche Alverson made four of her last five and scored 11 points. She had six rebounds.

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