Second-half rally falls just short against No. 14 South Carolina


Auburn rallied from a 15-point deficit to take a lead in the fourth quarter, but No. 14 South Carolina pulled away late for a 73-66 win Thursday night at Auburn Arena.

In their final home game of the season, the Tigers (20-8, 8-7 SEC) struggled to make shots early and saw South Carolina (21-9, 13-2) jump out to a big early lead.

But Auburn cut the deficit to three points at the end of the third quarter, then took a 50-48 lead – its first of the game – with just under seven minutes to play. From there, however, the Gamecocks went on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to put the game away.

“We have to play better than we played to beat the No. 14 team in the country,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “You don’t want to go down by 10, you can’t be in the first quarter down by 10. Then you make your run and get back, and then you let them go on a (12-0) run. So you’re not playing defense.”

Senior Janiah McKay, playing in her final home game at Auburn Arena, led all scorers with 21 points. She also had seven assists and three steals; tonight marked Auburn’s first loss this season when McKay had at least six assists.

Daisa Alexander shook off a slow start to finish with 15 points. Crystal Primm scored 14 points, her second-best total in SEC play, and Unique Thompson posted her 12th double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Gamecocks controlled the boards, outrebounding Auburn 44-28. For the game, Auburn shot 34.4 percent (22-64) while South Carolina finished at 43.4 percent (23-53). The teams combined to shoot 55 free throws with 47 fouls called in the contest; Auburn shot 72 percent from the line (18-25) on the night. And for just the second time this season, Auburn’s opponent scored more points off turnovers than the Tigers – Carolina had 13 points off Auburn’s 10 turnovers while the Tigers scored a season-low 11 points off 19 Gamecock turnovers.

South Carolina jumped out to an 18-8 lead after the first quarter and led by as many as 15 in the second quarter, but Auburn cut the deficit to nine at halftime, 33-24. The Tigers then got five straight points from Alexander to start the second half, cutting it to four points at 33-29. After Carolina pushed the lead back to as many as nine, Primm made two jumpers in the final minute of the quarter, including one at the buzzer, to cut the deficit to 45-42 after three.

A three-point play from Thompson at the 7:43 mark of the fourth tied the game 47-47, and a 3-pointer from Alexander with 6:58 to play gave Auburn its first lead at 50-48. But from there, Auburn did not score over the next three-plus minutes as the Gamecocks moved back ahead by double-digits.

KeKe Herbert Harrigan led South Carolina with 18 points off the bench. Alexis Jennings added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Auburn will close out the 2018-19 regular season on the road Sunday as the Tigers travel to Baton Rouge, La., to face LSU. Game time is 2 p.m. CT at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Categories: Alabama Sports, Sports