Auburn 73, Hawaii 53
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ Kristen Morehouse scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds as No. 18 Auburn beat Hawaii 73-53 in the first round of the West Regional in the NCAA women’s tournament Friday night.
Auburn (21-8), making its 12th NCAA appearance as an at-large entry out of the Southeastern Conference, used its trademark defense to smother Hawaii (23-6), the Big West postseason tournament champion. Auburn has led the SEC in scoring defense 14 of last 16 years, this year with an average yield of 58 points game. On Friday night, Hawaii hit only 36 percent for the night and 30 percent in the first half.
Hawaii’s leading scorer, Tania Brunton, scored 22 points. Brunton, who has scored 20 or more points in 13 of her last 17 games, didn’t score until she hit two free throws with 2:13 left in the first half.
Auburn led 30-25 at halftime, thanks to 10 points from Morehouse and some cold shooting early by the Wahines. Hawaii missed its first nine shots and turned the ball over three times before Nani Flores connected on a 15-footer seven minutes into the game.
Tamika Slade’s 3-pointer and a layup by Morehouse gave Auburn a 26-12 lead, matching the Tigers’ biggest advantage of the first half. Flores and Brunton scored four points each for the Wahines, who outscored Auburn 13-4 in the final five minutes of the half.
Hawaii was never closer than 38-33 in the second half. Kristen Mulligan had eight points as Auburn regained control of the game at 47-35 with 13:22 left.