Tigers Take WNIT Road Victory

Auburn wom its opening round Women's National Invitational Tournament basketball game by 14 points.

Cookeville, Tenn.--Four Tigers scored in double figures led by senior Alli Smalley's 17 points as Auburn advanced to the second round of the WNIT basketball tournament with a 68-54 victory over Tennessee Tech on Thursday night.

The Tigers will now travel to play at Toledo, which won its first round tournament game over Delaware. That contest will tip off at 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday.

Auburn improved to 16-15 with the victory while Tennessee Tech, regular season champion of the Ohio Valley Conference, ended its season with a 23-8 record.

The Tigers trailed 30-29 at halftime, but shot 53.8 percent from the field in the second half to pull away for the victory. For the game Coach Nell Fortner's team hit 43.9 percent of its shots.

Auburn enjoyed a major rebounding edge, 47-36. Also, the AU bench outscored the home team 17-3.

In addition to her 17 points, Smalley added seven assists and five rebounds.

Point guard Morgan Jennings contributed 11 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Tigers starting in place of injured sophomore Morgan Toles, who is out with a concussion.

Chantel Hilliard added 13 points and freshman Tyrese Tanner came off the bench to score 10 points and pull in seven rebounds.

Auburn trailed by seven points with 15:50 to play, but outscored Tech 28-14 the rest of the way.

The Tigers were 2-11 on threes and 16-23 at the foul line.

Tennessee Tech hit 31.3 percent from the field including 5-19 threes. Tech hit 9-14 free throws.

Point guard Tacarra Hayes led Tennessee Tech with 20 points.

"I thought going to the zone in the second half made the difference," Fortner said. "We were struggling guarding their on-ball penetration. Our on-ball defense wasn't very effective. We went down seven, switched to the zone and I thought we did a great job slowing them down.

"It was a total team effort, everyone contributed today and we needed everyone to," said Fortner. "We've had a couple weeks off and we were a little rusty. Once we got going in the second half, I thought we started playing much better."

"Alli Smalley is the senior on this team and she did a great job leading us today," said Fortner. "She played like a senior plays, she doesn't want to quit playing and the team followed her lead."

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