Tiger Women Romp In Opener

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn combined a mixture of solid play from veterans and newcomers as the Tigers cruised to an 85-36 victory over the Florida A&M Rattlerettes Friday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Sophomore Tia Miller led the team with 18 points and eight rebounds in her first action as a Tiger. The six-foot-two center was academically ineligible as a freshman, but proved to be as good as advertised when she came out of Boca Ciega High (St. Petersburg, Fla.) as the No. 2 ranked power forward in the nation.

The Tigers looked sluggish in the early going despite jumping out to a 13-3 lead in the first seven minutes of the contest. Miller had 12 of her 18 points in the first half and senior guard Carol Smith had nine of her 12 points in the first stanza. Smith made three of her four three-point attempts.

Auburn took just a 14-point lead into halftime, but put the game away early in the second half by starting it with a 22-0 run.

"We changed our defense in the second half and offensively we started making some shots and that created a spark," Coach Joe Ciampi said. "We put forth a good effort of putting pressure on the ball. Good things happened early and it just snowballed from there."

Auburn forced the visitors into 29 turnovers which they converted into 36 points. Freshman Nicole Louden led the second-half charge scoring all 12 of her points after halftime. The reserve point guard had three of the Tigers' 13 steals and made five of her eight shots.

The Tigers outmuscled the Rattlerettes on the glass grabbing 51 rebounds to 34 for the visitors. Miller and reserve forward Le'Coe Willingham, who grabbed seven boards to go with five points, led the rebounding effort. Auburn also overpowered the visitors in the paint, outscoring Florida A&M 42-6.

Miller also had a big night at the free throw line hitting 10-of-12 attempts as the Tigers shot 72.7 percent from the stripe. "Tia is turning into an impressive basketball player physically and mentally," Ciampi said. "The more she plays, the better she is going to get."

Junior LaKeisha Johnson added 10 points for the Tigers and freshman Natasha Brackett had nine points and six rebounds in her Auburn debut. Auburn will play Southern on Monday at Beard-Eaves Coliseum with tipoff set for 7 p.m.

Box Score

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