Junior guard Brandy Montgomery (above) is a key player for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--Coach Terri Flournoy-Williams has the Auburn women’s basketball team playing in the postseason again as the Tigers will take on St. John's on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Waco, Tex.
The Tigers are the ninth seed while St. John's, which is 23-9, is the eighth seed for a game that will tip off at 6:30 p.m. CDT and be televised on ESPN2.
Williams-Flournoy, who is in her fourth season as head coach of the Tigers, took Auburn to the WNIT?in her first two seasons. This year’s team, which is 19-11, is the first Auburn team to be invited to the NCAA Tournament since Coach Nell Fortner’s SEC championship squd made the field as a two seed in 2009.
“When you are sitting on the bubble you never know and we have been waiting for a very long time,” Williams-Flournoy said after receiving the news.
“Our players have been so focused since we ended last season so it wasn’t hard to keep them focused even though we didn’t know if we would be in," said the coach, whose team has been practicing since being eliminated from the SEC Tournament. "They are just so excited,” she said.
Williams-Flournoy said Auburn's victory over Missouri in the SEC Tournament probably was a key in getting her team into the NCAA field. “That was huge, absolutely, especially having lost to Missouri at home,” she said.
Terri Williams-Flournoy is coaching against a team from the Big East, the conference she coached in at Georgetown before coming to Auburn.
The Tigers, who posted an 11-3 record vs. non-conference opponents this season, are led by a trio of players.
Junior guard Brandy Montgomery is the top scorer at 14.0 points per game and has made 51 of the Tigers’ 125 three-point field goals. Junior guard Katie Frerking is averaging 12.1 points and a team-leading 2.6 steals per contest. Senior center Tra’Cee Tanner is averaging 12.0 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds.
"I have been here all four years with Coach Flo so this means a lot," Tanner said. "I am especially proud for my team being able to get to the NCAA Tournament."
Those players have started every game this season along with Jazmine Jones, a sophomore forward who is averaging 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds.
The other starter, freshman point guard Janiah McKay, is averaging 8.7 points per contest.
Auburn is one of nine SEC teams to make this year's tournament.
Williams-Flournoy noted she is looking forward to taking her Tigers to Waco to play St. John's, a team that won the Big East Tournament. “The team chemistry has been unbelievable,” she said.
The coach said the announcement that her Tigers were in the field sparked a major celebration among her players. "They all went crazy," she said. "I am not even sure if they saw who we were playing. As soon as the show went on they showed Baylor as the one seed and then showed us as the 8-9 game and the room exploded."