Auburn, Ala.--After playing one of their best halves of basketball in round one of the WNIT on Wednesday night, Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy’s Tigers will try to keep the momentum going on Sunday vs. Western Kentucky.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. CDT at Auburn Arena, where the Tigers will face the 22-10 Hilltoppers, who advanced to round two of the tournament with an 88-77 overtime home win over East Carolina.
Auburn took care of business vs. UAB in round one of the tournament, turning a 27-22 halftime lead into an 80-57 blowout victory with junior Tyrese Tanner leading the charge with a career-best 29 points.
Tanner said Auburn’s fullcourt pressure defense was the key to her team’s first round victory and said when the press is effective it energizes the Tigers. “It is really fun,” she said. “It gets us excited. It helps us on the offensive end.”
Williams-Flournoy said that the six-foot-one guard’s long arms and quickness as the point defender in the press is a key to its success. Senior forward Blanche Alverson agrees. “She has had a great year,” Alverson said of her teammate. “I think she really excels in Coach Flo’s system being a long guard, and being quick and athletic.
“She can use that length at the front of the press to her advantage getting tips on the ball and easy baskets,” Alverson added. That is where she thrives. She has got a great pull-up jumper and she really uses that to her advantage.”
Blanche Alverson is Auburn's leading rebounder and top three-point shooter.
Alverson agrees with Tanner about the press being a key to the team’s success. “I feel we kind of click on all cylinders once our pressure is good,” she said. “That affects our offense and affects our attitude toward the game. We want to keep getting easy baskets and extend our lead.”
Williams-Flournoy notes that it will be challenge to press against the Hilltoppers, a team that relies on its quickness. “Western Kentucky is playing four guards, which can be a tough matchup for us.,” the coach said. “They don’t have anyone taller that six feet so that becomes a tough matchup for us defensively.”
Auburn, which has a 17-14 record, will be taller at four of the five spots in the starting lineup. “It is a very important game for us to get on the boards both offensively and defensively, but it is still a tough matchup,” said Williams-Flournoy, who added that despite its lack of size Western Kentucky has shown the ability to rebound and score inside.
The Hilltoppers: Western Kentucky advanced to round two thanks to a late comeback to send the game to overtime, which the home team dominated.
Sophomores Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch are the key players for Western Kentucky. Gooch, a 6-0 forward, is averaging 16 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Govan, a 5-8 sophomore guard, is the top scorer at 20.3 points per game and the No. 2 rebounder with 6.1 per contest.
Tigers Vs. Toppers: Auburn is 4-0 all-time in women’s basketball games vs. Western Kentucky. The Tigers are 2-0 in games played in Auburn vs. WKU. The last meeting was an 82-69 victory at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 9, 1996.
Seventeen And Counting: Auburn’s 17 victories are the most for the Tigers since the 2008-09 SEC champs won 27 times. Last year Auburn finished the season with a 13-17 record. The Tigers also won three of their four games they played in Australia on a summer tour.
Survive And Advance: If Auburn wins and moves to the round of 16 of the WNIT, the opponent will be a familiar one, either Arkansas or Tulane. The Tigers defeated both of those teams during the regular season. AU won 70-65 at Tulane on November 28th and won at home vs. Arkansas, 50-47, in the SEC opener on January 3rd.
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