Coach Flo's Tigers Gearing Up to Face UAB

Comments from Auburn women's basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy and her players are featured prior to Auburn's WNIT opening round game.

Auburn, Ala.--While it is not the trip to the NCAA Tournament the Tigers were hoping for this season, Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy and her players say they are excited about their opportunity to compete in the WNIT.

The Tigers will take on UAB at 6 p.m. CDT on Wednesday at the Auburn Arena in the opening round of the 64-team tournament. With a victory over the Blazers the Tigers will advance to a second round game vs. either Western Kentucky or East Carolina.

"It is definitely exciting for our program and our young ladies to have an opportunity to continue to play," Williams-Flournoy said. "Anytime you have the opportunity to go to postseason play, it is a great opportunity for us.

"There are a lot of teams sitting at home not playing," said Williams-Flournoy, who Auburn hired away from Georgetown after she led the Hoyas to a WNIT berth in 2009 following by three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Auburn goes into the tournament with a 16-14 record after a disappointing 65-62 loss in the SEC Tournament to 22nd-ranked LSU. Auburn rallied from an 18-point second half deficit, cutting the gap to one point late in the contest.

UAB from Conference USA brings an 18-12 record into Wednesday's contest and little history of success against Auburn. The last time the two teams meet the Tigers cruised to a 93-66 win on Nov. 17, 2007 at UAB. Overall, UAB has won just four times in 33 games played against Auburn.

Junior guard Karisma Chapman leads UAB in scoring at 13.6 points per game and is averaging seven rebounds. Senior guard Amber Jones is averaging 13 points per contest while senior guard Ashley Grimes is next at 12.3 points.

"They are athletic and quick, especially their leading three guards," Williams-Flournoy said when asked about UAB. "It will be a matchup where we have to got to sit down and defend their guards who can both attack the basket and shoot the three."

The Tigers are playing in the WNIT for the fourth time. Two years ago a team coached by Nell Fortner won its opening round game at Tennessee Tech and then fell at Toledo in round two against the team that won the championship.

Auburn won the tournament in 2003, its first WNIT appearance, knocking off Baylor in a game played on the Lady Bears' homecourt. That team was coached by Joe Ciampi.

Senior forward Blanche Alverson said she is looking forward to playing in the tournament after enjoying the format two years ago. "There was a fun atmosphere to it because everybody knows it's either win or go home," said Alverson, who was recently named the SEC Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

After playing on the road in the 2011 tournament, Alverson said it is a plus for her team to open the event at the Auburn Arena where the Tigers have posted a 12-3 mark this season. "I'm glad to be playing back at home," she said. "I think that gives us a good advantage. I think we play really well at home. We have a great crowd and great energy."

Alverson said she expects Wednesday night's contest could be fast-paced and sophomore guard Hasina Muhammad, who was named Second Team All-SEC on Tuesday, agrees. "I heard they are a running team and we also like to run, too," she said.

Spring Breaking: Coach Flo gave her team last week off while classes were out of session with the university's spring break. The Tigers returned to practice on Sunday in anticipation of receiving a tournament bid, which happened on Monday night.

Spring Breaking, Part 2: Senior point guard Jet Ouardad was injured part of her senior season. She spent the week off from classes on campus doing rehab, making sure she is as healthy as possible for the WNIT.

Missing Tiger: Senior guard Julie King won't be available for the tournament. She is in Boston after signing a professional contract to play soccer for the Breakers. King was the SEC Soccer Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 as a senior for the league champion Tigers.

WNIT Record: Auburn has an 8-2 all-time record in this tournament and is 1-0 vs. UAB in WNIT?matchups.

Hometown Knowledge: Auburn junior guard Tyrese Tanner and her sister, Tra'cee, played high school basketball at Hoover in the Birmingham area. Tyrese Tanner said she and her sister know some of the UAB players as does freshman guard Chadarryl Clay. "This in-state rivalry is not as big as the (University of Alabama) game, but being another Alabama team we want to be the team that wins."

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