Auburn took command of the game in the first half with solid shooting and good defense, but had to hit foul shots in the closing minutes to preserve the victory to hold off a late run by the Flames.
The Tigers improved their record to 7-3 while Liberty, the defending Big South Conference champion, fell to 6-2.
Auburn led 33-19 at halftime thanks to good defense and solid shooting. The Tigers never trailed in the second half, but the Flames cut the lead to three with 4:15 to play, but that was as close as they could get. Auburn hit eight of 10 foul shots in the final 1:04 to preserve the victory.
Jordan Greenleaf led the Tigers in scoring with 17 points and was also the top rebounder with seven.
“Jordan was outstanding tonight,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. “This is the best I’ve seen her play since she hurt her knee so it was good to see her get back on track. It was only a matter of time for her in getting her confidence and her game back. When you sit out a year it really effects your play, so it is coming around for her.”
Chantel Hilliard scored 14 for Auburn and Alli Smalley added 12 points. Freshmen Blanche Alverson and Morgan Jennings added nine points each. Keke Carrier scored seven.
“KeKe got the wind knocked out of her in the first half and it affected her breathing for the rest of the game,” Fortner said. “Because of that I was not able to get as much out of her as I would have liked. I thought Chantel Hilliard stepped up in her absence and really had a nice game.”
In the first half the Tigers held the Flames to 8-25 shooting from the field while hitting 13-26 shots including 6-13 threes. The Tigers also held a huge rebounding edge of 22-8 in the first half. Liberty improved in that area in the second half to narrow Auburn’s rebounding edge for the game to 34-23.
“I think we came out really energetic, focused, very aggressive,” said Greenleaf. “We attacked them and I think the way we started off really shook them up and we kept them like that for the whole game. We had a couple of let-downs, but overall we stayed poised and composed.”
Auburn returns to action with a 2 p.m. road game at South Alabama on Sunday.
BROWN, Devon 7-9 3-3 19; MAYS, Amber 9-13 0-0 18; WARLEY, Avery 4-6 2-2 10; BEECHER, Kylee 1-4 5-6 7; ANTIC, Jelena 2-8 0-0 4; McLEOD, Rachel 0-6 2-2 2; WASHINGTON, LaKendra 1-3 0-0 2; MORGAN, Dymond 1-1 0-0 2; DALE, Danika 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-51 12-13 64.
Greenleaf, Jordan 5-7 7-8 17; Hilliard, Chantel 6-8 2-3 14; Smalley, Alli 4-8 0-0 12; Alverson, Blanche 3-10 1-2 9; Toles, Morgan 3-4 3-4 9; Carrier, KeKe 2-6 3-6 7; Thomas, Nicolle 1-7 0-0 2; Simmons, Parrisha 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-50 16-23 70.
Liberty 19 45 64
Auburn 33 37 70
3-point goals--Liberty 2-7 (BROWN, Devon 2-3; ANTIC, Jelena 0-3; WASHINGTON, LaKendra 0-1), Auburn 6-17 (Smalley, Alli 4-7; Alverson, Blanche 2-8; Thomas, Nicolle 0-2).
Rebounds--Liberty 23 (BROWN, Devon 8), Auburn 34 (Greenleaf, Jordan 7).
Assists--Liberty 6 (MAYS, Amber 3), Auburn 14
(Alverson, Blanche 4).
Total fouls--Liberty 18, Auburn 13.
Technical fouls--Liberty-None, Auburn-None.
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