FSU Rallies to Avoid Auburn's Upset Bid

Nell Fortner Auburn women's basketball team came up just short of knocking off a ranked opponent on Monday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's defense forced 29 turnovers and the Tigers led much of the game before Florida State rallied late to win 67-61 and avoid the upset on Monday night in a women's basketball game at the Auburn Arena.

A pair of free throws with 48.4 seconds left on a questionable foul call on Auburn's Chantel Hilliard sent 6-4 center Cierra Bravard to the foul line where she made pair of free throws to put the Seminoles ahead 63-61.

Auburn's Alli Smalley missed a 12-foot shot to tie the game and FSU's Alexa Deluzio hit two free throws with 24.2 seconds remaining to stretch the lead to four points.

Auburn's last gasp was a missed jump shot by Jordan Greenleaf ending the Tigers' final hope to knock off the Seminoles, who came into the game ranked 14th and 18th nationally.

Auburn fell to 1-1 with the loss while FSU improved to 2-0.

Blanche Alverson led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points while Greenleaf added 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

Morgan Toles scored 15 points for the Tigers and dished out seven assists while also having a strong game on defense.

Deluzio led all scorers with 23 points for the Seminoles, who also got 14 points from Natasha Howard.

The Tigers hit just 37.9 percent of their field goals while FSU made 41.5 percent. Auburn was 7-13 at the foul line while FSU made 18-22 free throws.

A key statistic for the Seminoles was a 47-29 edge in rebounds. "We have to do a much better job of boxing out and keeping people off the boards," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said.

The coach did like the way her team played defensively vs. the ACC opponent. "I thought we were warriors on the defensive end," Fortner said. "We have to find a few more ways to score the ball and get more movement out there on the floor."

Smalley, Auburn's leading scorer last year, was held to just six points as she made 2-15 field goals. Fortner said that she tried to get the officials to call fouls on the Seminoles for the way they were playing defensively vs. the guard, but it was to no avail.

Auburn's Greenleaf said FSU's size was a big factor in the game. "They are pretty physical inside and they are tough," the senior said.

Morgan Toles makes a jump shot for the Tigers.

Auburn's quickness and aggressiveness in the first half allowed the Tigers to overcome a cold start offensively and take a 30-23 lead at halftime. The Tigers forced 17 turnovers by the Seminoles prior to intermission.

Auburn's shooting improved in the closing minutes of the half as the Tigers scored 16 uncontested points while holding the Seminoles scoreless for more than seven minutes.

"I was really proud of the run we made in the first half that put us up by seven at the half," Fortner said.

The Tigers scored 17 of their 30 first half points off turnovers with sophomore Blanche Alverson leading the Tigers at the break in scoring with seven points.

Florida State regained the lead at 33-32 with back-to-back threes less than four minutes into the second half, but the Tigers led most of the second half.

The Tigers return to action on Thursday with another home game vs. a nationally ranked ACC team as No. 6 Duke visits the Auburn Arena for a 6 p.m. tip.

Fortner said her players are looking forward to the challenge. "This is what makes you better," she said. "We want to be an NCAA Tournament team and go deep into the tournament. This is the only way you do it."


Alexa Deluzio 6-13 9-9 23; Natasha Howard 6-9 0-0 14; Cierra Bravard 3-6 6-8 12; Chelsea Davis 3-4 2-3 8; Chasity Clayton 3-10 0-0 7; Christian Hunnicutt 1-4 1-2 3; Olivia Bresnahan 0-1 0-0 0; Courtney Ward 0-6 0-0 0. Totals 22-53 18-22 67.

AUBURN (1-1)

Alverson, Blanche 7-12 0-0 16; Greenleaf, Jordan 5-13 4-5 15; Toles, Morgan 7-14 1-4 15; Smalley, Alli 2-15 1-2 6; Williams, Jassany 2-6 1-2 5; Strain, Courtney 1-1 0-0 2; Simmons, Parrisha 1-2 0-0 2; Davis, Peyton 0-0 0-0 0; Tanner, Tyrese 0-2 0-0 0; Hilliard, Chantel 0-0 0-0 0; West, Pascale 0-0 0-0 0; Jennings, Morgan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-66 7-13 61.

Florida State 23 44 67
Auburn 30 31 61

3-point goals--Florida State 5-15 (Natasha Howard 2-3; Alexa Deluzio 2-5; Chasity Clayton 1-2; Christian Hunnicutt 0-1; Courtney Ward 0-4), Auburn 4-10 (Alverson, Blanche 2-3; Greenleaf, Jordan 1-1; Smalley, Alli 1-6).
Fouled out--Florida State-None, Auburn-Williams, Jassany.
Rebounds--Florida State 47 (Cierra Bravard 10), Auburn 29 (Greenleaf, Jordan 9).
Assists--Florida State 10 (Christian Hunnicutt 3), Auburn 12 (Toles, Morgan 7).
Total fouls--Florida State 18, Auburn 19.
Technical fouls--Florida State-None, Auburn-None.

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