Strong second half leads Auburn past Ole Miss 64-51
SOURCE: AUBURN ATHLETICS
Auburn sophomore Unique Thompson picked up her ninth double-double of the year to lead the Tigers to a 64-51 victory over Ole Miss Thursday night at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.
The Tigers (16-5, 4-4 SEC) struggled from the field early in the game, but outscored the Rebels (8-14, 2-6) 25-10 in the third quarter to break open what had been a three-point game at the half.
“We had to get ourselves together, and we needed to get Unique Thompson going,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “And we did. (In the first half) We were being a little passive in the offense, catching it in the high post and not really knowing what to do with the basketball. We just really became more aggressive at the high post (in the third quarter). We needed to play well, we needed to defend well. We just needed to do well for ourselves. I thought our defensive pressure was really good.”
Thompson finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds and was a career-best 10-of-12 at the free-throw line. Daisa Alexander scored 10 points, all coming in that pivotal third quarter, and Crystal Primm finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
“We knew that we had to get paint points,” Thompson said. “We watched the film and knew it was going to be open. So it was just all about doing work early and getting the job done around the rim. I knew I had to do something with my free throws, so I had to focus on that and get it done.”
Freshman Erin Howard moved back into the starting lineup and filled the stat sheet with eight points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Janiah McKay finished with six points and six assists.
Both teams shot 35 percent from the field, but Auburn made up for a tough shooting night by hitting 18-of-24 free throws. The Tigers also out-rebounded the Rebels 40-38, snapping a string of five straight games losing the rebounding battle.
Auburn also forced Ole Miss into 20 turnovers with nine of those coming in the third quarter; the Tigers scored 15 points off those 20 turnovers.
Auburn worked the ball inside repeatedly in the opening few minutes as Thompson had 12 of Auburn’s first 15 points. And despite Auburn struggling from outside the paint, the Tigers took a 27-24 lead to halftime, thanks in large part to hitting 10-of-14 free throws in the opening 20 minutes.
The Tigers opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run and held Ole Miss without a field goal for nearly nine minutes of the third quarter, extending the lead to as many as 20 points before taking a 52-34 lead to the final period. Meanwhile, the Tigers forced nine third-quarter turnovers, limiting Ole Miss to just eight shot attempts. Auburn led by as many as 22 midway through the fourth quarter before a few late Ole Miss baskets cut the final margin to 13.
Crystal Allen and Shandricka Sessom each had 16 points to lead the Rebels.
The Tigers are back at home for their next two games, beginning with a Sunday contest against the Georgia Lady Bulldogs. Game time is 2 p.m. CT at Auburn Arena with the broadcast on SEC Network.