The Auburn women's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker in the third round of the WNIT losing a road contest to Mississippi State, 59-54, Thursday evening at Humphrey Coliseum.
"It is a tough way to end the season," said head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. "I thought we played well in moments, but we had some lapses. They got on a run and we got in some foul trouble. We had some people playing minutes they aren't used to playing. The adjustment is that you have Hasina (Muhammad) playing the 4 and sometimes the post, and trying to rebound against a good rebounding team. I knew rebounding would be huge. Something we always look at are those empty possessions. We wanted to get the ball into the paint, but sometimes we settled for the jump shots instead of getting it into the paint."
It was a tale of two halves for the Tigers, holding Mississippi State to just 27 percent shooting in the first half, compared to 55 percent shooting by Auburn. Auburn was able to hold the Bulldogs to just 19 points in the first half despite playing most of the first period without three of its starters, including leading scorer Tyrese Tanner (3 mins first half). Auburn took a nine-point lead into the locker room, 28-19.
Auburn still looked in control at the start of the second period, jumping to a 14-point lead at the 15:53 mark. Mississippi State went on a 13-3 run over a 5:30 minute period, taking the lead at the 7:19 mark. In the second half, it was the Bulldogs holding Auburn to 33 percent shooting to their 48 percent. Auburn had a season-most 26 turnovers and recorded 27 fouls for the game.
"Mississippi State made a big run, hit some big shots and got offensive rebounds, which allowed them to get back in the game," Williams-Flournoy said. "We held their key players in check, did a good job on their go-to players. We let (Kendra) Grant go off a little bit. WE had lots of turnovers and lot of fouls, and the turnovers we forced them into, we didn't convert them into points."
Muhammad, sparked by 10 first-half points, led the team in scoring with 13, followed by 11 points by Tyrese Tanner and 10 from Tra'Cee Tanner. Senior Peyton Davis had a 10-rebound performance in her final outing in an Auburn uniform.
Auburn finished the season with a 19-15 overall record for the second straight season, but posted a two-win improvement in conference play with a 7-9 mark, which tied for sixth in the SEC.
"I'm really proud of this team," Williams-Flournoy said. "If you look at how we started the season, with eight newcomers, and a new point guard, two of them being freshmen. If I had to look through a crystal ball, and predict how the season would turn out I'm not sure I would thought it would be like this."