Brandy Montgomery (above) launches a shot for Auburn.
Auburn, Ala.--Needing a resume-building victory for their NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament chances, the Auburn Tigers did that on Sunday with an impressive 80-58 victory over 16th-ranked Florida.
The Tigers got another strong performance from junior guard Katie Frerking, who led all scorers with 18 points while adding 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Auburn improved to 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the SEC while the Gators dropped to 19-6 overall and 7-5 in the league.
A key to victory was Auburn out-scoring the Gators 27-9 in points off turnovers. Combine that with a 40-28 advantage for points in the paint, 16-9 for second chance points and 20-9 for bench scoring and the Tigers played their most complete game of the season.
Frerking hit 7-14 field goals, was 2-5 on three-pointers and made both of her foul shots.
“We knew that this was a game that we could kind of steal,” Frerking said. “I mean that they are ranked there ahead of us in the SEC and so we knew this is one we could go get at home.
“We talked to the team a lot going into this weekend, especially those of us that had been here, about being focused on what we had to do to beat Florida,” Frerking said. “I thought across the board everybody came out and did everything they could do to help us win. I’m so proud of everybody.”
Brandy Montgomery added 16 points, Tra’Cee Tanner scored 12 and Khady Dieng came off the bench to contribute 10 points for the Tigers. Ronni Williams led Florida with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Each team finished with 35 rebounds and the Tigers turned the ball over 10 times, 11 fewer than the Gators who like Auburn pressed full court for much of the game.
Montgomery said the performance was Auburn’s best of the season. “I feel like everyone contributed in some way. I feel like our energy was great. Our effort was great, everyone was talking, people were stepping up hitting shots.
“Erica Sanders hit two clutch shots to extend our lead,” Montgomery added. “I was so proud of her because she is more of a defensive threat, but we have been trying to get her to turn her offensive game on so I think everyone contributed in some way.”
Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said she liked the team’s defense in the second half. She added that the lack of turnovers was a big deal, too. “It was huge,” she said. “I really tried to get them to understand that our best defense today would be not turning the ball over. Florida does a very good job with live-ball turnovers. We couldn’t turn the ball over. Then we were limiting their possessions and they did a great job.”
The Auburn coach said, The big difference in the game--we gave up 43 points in the first half to Florida and in the second half we only gave up 15. That was the game right there. We were scoring. Our offensive game was at its best, but I told them at halftime that we had given up 43 points and we had to do a better job defensively.”
Florida coach Amanda Butler said, “Auburn just outplayed us. They were tougher than us. Other than that opening flurry, they really played with a lot more desire than we did. That was really disappointing.”
The Tigers are off until Sunday when they have a 2 p.m. CST home contest vs. Missouri. It will be Senior day for Tra'Cee Tanner and Cabriana Capers, who will be honored in pregame ceremonies.