Auburn, Ala.--Senior Blanche Alverson scored a career-high 32 points on Senior Day as her Auburn women’s basketball team defeated Mississippi State 74-65 on Sunday.
Alverson hit 12-16 field goals, was 5-9 on threes and 3-3 at the foul line. The forward added three rebounds, three steals and blocked a shot.
“Her performance was awesome,” first-year Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “What a great senior night to have for Blanche. Any time we needed a basket and any time we needed to stop the run, she was right there, and I thought our young ladies did a very great job of knowing that she was hot and tried to find her.”
With the victory the Tigers avoid having to play in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. The Tigers will be the No. 11 seed in the tournament and will play No. 6 seed LSU at 7:30 p.m. CST on Thursday at the Gwinnett Center in Suwanee, Ga.
Alverson said the Tigers really needed the victory. “It was a great team win, and my teammates really looked for me,” the senior said. “When I hit my first couple of shots, I think they all knew I was feeling it a little bit and knew I was in the zone so they kept trying to find me the ball whenever I was open. I owe it all to them for their assists today, and I just knew that if I was the one getting shots, I needed to knock them down because we needed to win this game.”
“I think on your senior night you definitely want to go out and have a good performance,” Alverson added. “I was definitely a little anxious before just because I didn’t shoot well against Vanderbilt so I wanted to come out and really have a good complete game. This was the best you could’ve hoped for.”
With a trey at the 8:48 mark of the first half, Alverson hit her 200th career three-pointer, becoming the second Auburn player in AU history to reach that mark. She now has 202.
The Tigers improved to 16-13 overall and 5-11 in the SEC. Mississippi State is now 13-16 overall and 5-11 in the conference.
The Tigers forced 31 Mississippi State turnovers to overcome 52.1 percent shooting by the visitors. Auburn shot 48.1 percent from the field and hit 18-23 free throws. The Bulldogs were 12-14 at the foul line.
Auburn controlled the first half and led 40-24 at intermission, but the visitors made a strong run, cutting Auburn’s lead to four in the second half.
“We played a great first half,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We came out in the second half and acted like we already had the game won. We called a few timeouts to get ourselves situated back again.
“With every team in the SEC there is always a chance of the team coming back because they are such good teams,” the coach added. “Mississippi State was coming off such a great win against Georgia so they had the confidence they needed to make a run to get back into the game.”
Mississippi State narrowed Auburn's lead to three points with 11:48 left in the game, but Alverson scored the next eight points as she nit a pair of threes to put the Tigers up 56-45. The Bulldogs never seriously challenged Auburn's lead the rest of the game.
Tyrese Tanner launches a shot for the Tigers.
Junior guard Tyrese Tanner scored 19 points for the Tigers and her sister, freshman Tra’cee Tanner, led the Tigers in rebounding with six.
Jet Ouardad, one of four seniors on the team, scored nine points while adding eight assists. Senior Julie King, a first-year player who spent four seasons on the soccer team, scored two points for the Tigers while senior center Pascale West played but did not score.
“It’s a great senior class and they work so hard,” Coach Flo said. “I said it earlier, but it is tough as a senior to accept a new head coach because there is nothing you can do about it. You have to stay, and you can’t transfer. You have nowhere to go. They did a great job of accepting me as their new head coach and doing everything that I asked them to do.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE (65)
Martha Alwal 7-15 1-1 15; Kendra Grant 5-8 4-4 15; Jerica James 4-7 3-3 12; Carnecia Williams 6-10 0-0 12; Katia May 2-4 2-2 6; Darriel Gaynor 1-4 1-2 4; Candace Foster 0-0 1-2 1; Jessy Ward 0-0 0-0 0; Sherise Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-48 12-14 65.
Blanche Alverson 12-16 3-3 32; Tyrese Tanner 6-15 7-8 19; Najat Ouardad 1-4 6-8 9; Muhammad, Hasina 2-4 2-2 6; Tra'cee Tanner 2-5 0-0 4; Julie King 1-2 0-0 2; Peyton Davis 1-4 0-2 2; Cabriana Capers 0-0 0-0 0; Chadarryl Clay 0-2 0-0 0; Pascale West 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 18-23 74.
Miss. State 24 41 65
Auburn 40 34 74
3-point goals--Mississippi State 3-8 (Jerica James 1-2; Darriel Gaynor 1-4; Kendra Grant 1-2), Auburn 6-13 (Blanche Alverson 5-9; Najat Ouardad 1-3; Chadarryl Clay 0-1).
Fouled out--Mississippi State-None, Auburn-None.
Rebounds--Mississippi State 30 (Martha Alwal 10), Auburn 26 (Tra'cee Tanner 6).
Assists--Mississippi State 13 (Jerica James 6), Auburn 22 (Najat Ouardad 8).
Total fouls--Mississippi State 20, Auburn 15.
Technical fouls--Mississippi State-None, Auburn-None.
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