No. 7 Lady Vols rally late to beat Auburn 70-59
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jaime Nared scored 19 points, Evina Westbrook made a tiebreaking basket with 1:43 left and No. 7 Tennessee outlasted Auburn 70-59 Thursday to remain unbeaten and snap the Tigers’ seven-game winning streak.
Tennessee (14-0, 2-0 SEC) withstood a season-high 28 turnovers and continued its best start since winning its first 18 games in 2005-06, a season that ended with a 31-5 record and an NCAA regional final appearance. This marks the Lady Vols’ fifth 14-0 start in school history.
The Lady Vols went on a decisive 10-0 run with the game on the line and outscored Auburn 19-4 down the stretch. In a game that featured 12 ties and 16 lead changes, neither team ever was ahead by more than five points until the game’s final minute.
Westbrook scored 18 points, but also had nine turnovers for Tennessee. Nared had 11 rebounds to go along with her 19 points. Mercedes Russell added 10 points.
Daisa Alexander scored 16 points off the bench for Auburn (10-3, 1-1). Janiah McKay and Tiffany Lewis had 10 points each.
The game was tied at 57-all in the final two minutes when Anastasia Hayes prevented a wild Russell from going out of bounds. Hayes then regrouped the offense and passed to Westbrook, whose jumper put Tennessee ahead for good.
On Auburn’s next possession, Alexander drove to the basket and had her shot blocked by Russell, setting up a fastbreak that resulted in a Hayes three-point play with 1:15 remaining. Tennessee made its free throws the rest of the way to put the game out of reach.
Auburn has forced at least 20 turnovers in every game it has played this season and used that strategy to frustrate Tennessee. Alexander came off the bench and scored eight straight points during a 10-0 run to open the second quarter as Auburn grabbed a 23-18 lead.
Tennessee committed 12 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game and struggled to take care of the ball all night. The Lady Vols rallied to force a halftime tie, and the game remained deadlocked heading into the fourth quarter.
Auburn grabbed a 55-51 lead with 4:26 remaining before Tennessee finally took over.
Auburn: While the Tigers thrive on forcing turnovers, they had their own issues protecting the basketball down the stretch. Auburn committed 18 turnovers and had 13 of them in the second half. The Tigers also shot just 31.6 percent.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols are undefeated but need to take better care of the basketball. This was the second straight game in which Tennessee had over 20 turnovers. Westbrook, a freshman, has 16 turnovers in her last two games.
Auburn: At No. 19 Texas A&M on Sunday.
Tennessee: Hosts Vanderbilt on Sunday.
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