FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Blanche Alverson and Morgan Toles went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final minute Saturday at Arkansas, preserving Auburn's lead as the Tigers (14-11, 7-5 SEC) hung on for a 64-59 win over the Razorbacks (16-8, 4-8 SEC).
Senior Alli Smalley scored a team-high 19 points to lead the Tigers to the win while freshman Courtney Strain notched a career-high 12 points.
"I am really proud of our team, they played so tough for 40 minutes today," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "Courtney Strain, Peyton Davis and Alli Smalley really stepped up for us today and did some nice things. Alli shot the ball really well."
The Tigers held two of Arkansas' top two scorers, C'eira Ricketts and Lyndsay Harris, to a combined 14 points in the game. The Auburn defense also held the Razorbacks, who average nearly five 3-pointers per game, to just two.
"The team did a great job of really listening to the scouting report and executing it on the court," said Fortner. "We did a great job of defending the 3-pointers and holding down Harris and Ricketts."
The teams traded the lead early in the first half, but Auburn was able to pull away by seven, 25-18, with 4:06 left. However, Arkansas finished the half on an 11-3 run to take a 29-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The teams traded the lead again early in the second half with neither team able to pull away by more than three points. Arkansas led by two after a Ricketts jumper gave the Razorbacks a 42-40 lead with 12:06 remaining when Smalley caught fire.
A Smalley basket and a subsequent 3-pointer gave Auburn the lead for good with 8:57 left. She scored again a minute later to give Auburn a four-point lead. The Tigers would go on to lead by as many as seven points with Arkansas getting no closer than three points the rest of the way.
While Auburn's last field goal came with 1:46 left in the game, Auburn went 6-for-6 from the line the rest of the way to hold on to the lead and the win.
Chantel Hilliard, who hit two of those free throws, led the Tigers with seven rebounds along with her eight points. Freshman Peyton Davis was right behind her with six rebounds along with four points and a game-high three blocks. Alverson scored nine points while fellow sophomore Morgan Toles added eight points and seven assists.
Ashley Daniels and Sarah Watkins each notched double-doubles to lead Arkansas. Watkins scored 12 points with 10 rebounds while Daniels tallied game-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
As a team, Auburn shot 37.5 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from 3-point range. Arkansas was 34.9 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Razorbacks won the battled of the boards, 43-40, while Auburn finished with the turnover advantage, 16-13.
Auburn will return to action at 6 p.m., Thursday at home against in-state rival Alabama (13-12, 2-10 SEC). It will be All-Auburn, All-Orange night for the "Iron Bowl of Basketball." Fans will also be able to get their photo taken with the BCS National Championship trophy at the game.
Auburn University will host the first and second rounds of the 2011 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, March 20 and 22 at Auburn Arena. Tickets are available now at AUBTix.com.
Follow Auburn women's basketball on Twitter at twitter.com/AuburnWBB.
Newspaper Box Score
Auburn vs Arkansas
02-13-11 4 p.m. at Fayetteville, Ark. (Bud Walton Arena)
AUBURN 64, ARKANSAS 59
AUBURN (14-11, 7-5 SEC)
Smalley, Alli 7-11 2-3 19; Strain, Courtney 5-7 2-2 12; Alverson, Blanche 2-12 3-4 9; Hilliard, Chantel 3-7 2-4 8; Toles, Morgan 3-17 2-2 8; Williams, Jassany 2-4 0-0 4; Davis, Peyton 2-5 0-0 4; Simmons, Parrisha 0-0 0-0 0; West, Pascale 0-0 0-2 0; Tanner, Tyrese 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-64 11-17 64.
ARKANSAS (16-8, 4-8 SEC)
DANIELS, Ashley 9-12 4-4 22; WATKINS, Sarah 4-17 3-4 12; RICKETTS, C'eira 2-10 3-4 7; HARRIS, Lyndsay 2-12 2-3 7; PEAK, Keira 2-3 1-1 5; DELGADO, Yashira 1-5 0-0 2; WILLIAMS, Quistelle 1-2 0-0 2; TOWNSEND, Jamesha 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 22-63 13-17 59.
Auburn 28 36 64
Arkansas 29 30 59
3-point goals--Auburn 5-10 (Smalley, Alli 3-4; Alverson, Blanche 2-5; Strain, Courtney 0-1), Arkansas 2-13 (HARRIS, Lyndsay 1-7; WATKINS, Sarah 1-3; DELGADO, Yashira 0-2; RICKETTS, C'eira 0-1). Fouled out--Auburn-None, Arkansas-None. Rebounds--Auburn 40 (Hilliard, Chantel 7), Arkansas 43 (DANIELS, Ashley 11). Assists--Auburn 18 (Toles, Morgan 7), Arkansas 13 (DELGADO, Yashira 4; RICKETTS, C'eira 4). Total fouls--Auburn 17, Arkansas 15. Technical fouls--Auburn-None, Arkansas-None. A-1348 Estimated Actual Attendance: 857
INFORMATION SOURCE: AUBURN ATHLETICS