"I'm just happy to get the win," Coach Nell Fortner said. "It wasn't a pretty ball game. I never felt like we got into much of an offensive flow. I'll give South Carolina some credit, they shut down some shooters, and really got on us tough. But I can't complain about the win. It just needs to be a little prettier than that."
With the victory the Tigers moved into a tie with Georgia for second place the SEC.
Opening on fire Auburn jumped out to a 12-4 lead early in Sunday's contest and held the lead for the entire first half in a sloppy period for both teams. Struggling to get into an offensive rhythm the Tigers scored just 26 points but the last three may have been the biggest of the game for Fortner's Tigers.
Leading by just three with 1:39 left, Auburn got a free throw from Toles to push the lead back to four and got the ball back with 12 seconds left following a Gamecock turnover looking for some momentum heading into the break. Toles delivered that and more as she was fouled on the shot with four seconds left. The shot went in as did the following free throw, giving Auburn a huge seven-point lead at the break.
"We just weren't playing smart," Fortner said. "We needed to do specific things better and I think we just bared down and got a little more focused. Morgan Toles stepped up and played well and Jassany Williams came in and got huge rebounds for us at critical times. If someone were to ask me how many rebounds she had, I would say 10, because those rebounds were so huge and important. We had to have them."
Coming out rolling in the second half Auburn built its lead to 11 at 38-27 with 14:25 left but South Carolina came roaring back to outscore the Tigers 11-1 over the next five minutes to draw even for the first time since the opening minutes of play. The two teams would trade baskets back and forth until a pair of Toles free throws with 5:30 left once again tied the game for Auburn at 47.
After that it was a struggle for both teams as over three minutes elapsed before Toles put the dagger in the Gamecocks on this day. Taking the ball to the basket Toles made the shot and was fouled with just over two minutes remaining. Her free throw put the Tigers up three and they wouldn't look back as she slammed the door with the final four points of the game to give Auburn the win.
"I knew we weren't hitting a lot of shots," Toles said of Sunday‘s game. "We weren't really getting a lot of good looks either. Coming off the on ball screens they were covering up the shooters, and left me open, so I just took it."
SOUTH CAROLINA (47)
BRUNER, Ashley 7-14 1-4 15; WALKER, Ieasia 5-16 0-3 12; GRANT, Markeshia 2-9 2-2 8; NEWTON, Courtney 2-5 1-2 5; NAINIMA, Valerie 1-4 0-0 2; MAY, Jewel 1-3 0-0 2; SUTTON, La'Keisha 1-6 0-0 2; STEPHENS, Charenee 0-1 1-2 1; KENNEDY, Samone 0-1 0-0 0; WILSON, Ebony 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-59 5-13 47.
Toles, Morgan 7-15 7-8 21; Smalley, Alli 5-15 0-0 11; Alverson, Blanche 3-7 0-2 7; Greenleaf, Jordan 2-6 1-5 5; Tanner, Tyrese 2-6 0-0 4; Simmons, Parrisha 2-7 0-0 4; Williams, Jassany 0-0 2-2 2; Hilliard, Chantel 0-0 0-0 0; Jennings, Morgan 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-58 10-17 54.
South Carolina 19 28 47
Auburn 26 28 54
3-point goals--South Carolina 4-15 (WALKER, Ieasia 2-4; GRANT, Markeshia 2-4; NAINIMA, Valerie 0-3; KENNEDY, Samone 0-1; NEWTON, Courtney 0-3), Auburn 2-7 (Smalley, Alli 1-3; Alverson, Blanche 1-3; Tanner, Tyrese 0-1).
Fouled out--South Carolina-SUTTON, La'Keisha, Auburn-None.
Rebounds--South Carolina 42 (BRUNER, Ashley 8), Auburn 42 (Alverson, Blanche 9).
Assists--South Carolina 10 (SUTTON, La'Keisha 4), Auburn 9 (Toles, Morgan 3).
Total fouls--South Carolina 21, Auburn 16.
Technical fouls--South Carolina-None, Auburn-None.