7:00 PM ET, February 5, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. -- Coach Nell Fortner was hoping Auburn would do more than just survive.DeWanna Bonner scored 23 points, Whitney Boddie had two free throws and a layup late and the Tigers (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) held on for a 72-65 win over Mississippi on Thursday night after blowing a double-digit lead."I didn't think we played a very good game," Fortner said. "At this point in time, you've got a home game, you're heading down the stretch in the SEC, and I was expecting a little better effort."I'm not disappointed in the win. There's just some things that you want to be shoring up at this point in time. We missed an opportunity to maybe take a step forward," Fortner said.Boddie was 2-of-4 from the line and had a steal and layup in the final 1:10 to help the Tigers (22-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) survive after blowing a 12-point lead.Boddie also flirted with a triple-double, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.Alli Smalley had 15 points while Sherell Hobbs added 11 for the Tigers, who took their first loss last week at Georgia.The Tigers appeared poised to take control, riding an 18-3 run to a 55-43 lead with 11 minutes left. But Bianca Thomas hit three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws during a 14-2 run that tied the game at 57. Thomas had a career-high 28 points -- 21 in the second half -- and hit five 3-pointers.The Rebels (14-9, 3-5) had won four of the last five meetings and two straight at Auburn. They flirted with a huge upset one week after they lost by a point at Tennessee (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) after leading by five with 1:16 left."We keep saying we're this close," Ole Miss coach Renee Ladner said. "It's very heartbreaking."Even in victory, Fortner gave her team a longer-than-usual harangue in the locker room after the game. The message?"We were just talking about being focused," Bonner said. "There wasn't too much positive to say. It wasn't a great performance, but we came out with a win. It was an ugly win."Shawn Goff collected 14 points and nine rebounds for the Rebels despite picking up her fourth foul with nine minutes left. Shantell Black had 11 points and eight assists.Goff's short jumper made it 66-63 with 2:06 left, but Ole Miss didn't have another basket until Black's drive 90 seconds later. Boddie's free throw and Bonner's driving basket put the game virtually out of reach, and Boddie punctuated the win with her steal and layup in the final seconds."She kind of waits on hers and picks and chooses her spots, but when the game is on the line Whitney Boddie is a big-time player," Fortner said. "She's going to keep the ball in her hands and go find a way to score. That's what she did tonight."That last steal was the 13th for Auburn, which forced 18 turnovers. The Tigers turned it over 12 times in the first half and only twice after that."We played an incredibly good basketball team," Ladner said. "I thought they took advantage of some of our weaknesses. We turned the ball over at inopportune times, and when those occurred they scored. That's what a good basketball team does."The Rebels had taken their largest lead, 40-37, four minutes into the second half before Auburn surged ahead. Smalley hit back-to-back 3s during the run, but Thomas answered.Thomas hit 4-of-5 from beyond the arc after the half."That was a mental breakdown because there's no way she should have been that open to hit those shots," Fortner said. "She hit one that was NBA range."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-60 (.433)||26-59 (.441)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-20 (.350)||4-9 (.444)|
|FT Made-Attempted||6-8 (.750)||16-21 (.762)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||8 (0/0)|