Women Fall Despite Valiant Effort

Auburn, Ala.—Despite a valiant effort that saw Auburn play nose-to-nose with the bigger and deeper Georgia Bulldogs, in the end the hill was just too tall to climb as the Tigers fell 60-49 at home in SEC play. The loss drops Auburn to 13-4 overall, 1-3 in the conference while #8 Georgia improves its record to 13-3 overall, 2-2 in SEC play.

Playing without injured post players Tia Miller and Brandi Hillman, coach Joe Ciampi's squad was up against the wall against the very big Georgia Bulldogs. But the Tigers gave an effort worthy of a win for much of the game Thursday night as they held their own despite the adverse circumstances surrounding this team.

"I thought this young team of Auburn gave a valiant effort for 32 minutes," Ciampi said. "Our problem I believe was our discipline in terms of breaking down on defense. We got a little bit of a lead and our freshmen decided they were going to over-extend our defense and that was the start of Georgia's offensive success. They found a way to get it in the high post, which we were trying to protect, and from there they exploited what was their strength and our weakness because of our size. We knew they could throw over us and that's what they did."

The story of the game was without a doubt the play of Georgia's twin towers Kara Braxton and Christi Thomas. Combining for 42 points and 19 rebounds they were able to have their way with the smaller Tigers for much of the game but it particularly came into play in the second half. With the lead see-sawing back and forth to open the second half, Georgia finally began to work the ball inside after Auburn was able to shut down that part of the game in the first half.

Leading 39-36 with 8:55 left in the game following a jumper from Crispina Correia, who started for the first time in her career, Auburn was hoping to hold on to a lead they had held much of the game. That wouldn't be the case as Braxton and Thomas would begin their show. Scoring all 24 of Georgia's points the rest of the way, Auburn never had an answer down the stretch for either. The Tigers did have a shot trailing just 50-49 with 4:27 left but were outscored 10-0 to finish the game and seal the victory for Georgia. The Bulldogs made 17-of-30 shots in the second half compared to Auburn's 10-of-25.

"It didn't look pretty at all," Auburn senior guard Carol Smith. "Coming in we knew what we were dealing with but we had to go out and play basketball. Injuries happen during the season and we just have to go out and play basketball…coach said we have to play a 40-minute game and we only played about 30 minutes if that many. We have to come out, stay focused the entire time and continue to play."

The first half was a game of attrition for both teams as Auburn held a 23-22 lead at the break despite shooting just 21.9 percent from the floor. Their defense did the job though as Georgia shot just 29.6 percent from the floor, including 1-of-9 from three-point range. The play of the half came early as LeCoe Willingham caught a forearm in the face and was forced to the bench with a severe cut to the lower lip. Sitting out seven minutes, she made her way back into the game and eventually led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points and added 7 rebounds. Nancy Derrick added 8 points while Correia chipped in with 7 and 9 rebounds.

The Tigers return to action Sunday when they host Mississippi State at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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