Return Of The Jersey Girl

West Long Branch, New Jersey--Senior guard Nicole Louden scored 16 points and added a career high six steals as she led the Auburn women's basketball Tigers to their eight straight victory.

Auburn's 73-44 victory over Monmouth was a homecoming for Louden, a New Jersey native whose nickname is "Jersey" with her teammates.

"My family and friends were here tonight, and I was excited to play in front of them," said Louden, who was considered one of the top high school players in New Jersey history.

"We knew we needed to be tenacious and aggressive on the boards," Louden added. "Our mindset was to pressure the ball defensively, and I thought we got a lot of good transition buckets at key times." Louden missed her collegiate career high by one point.

"We came out aggressively and our trap was very effective," said Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. "I think that set the tone and that was difference in game."

Auburn, which improved to 8-2, shot 51.6 percent from the field in the first half. Natasha Brackett had 12 first half points and finished the game with 16. She moved into sole possession of 10th place on the all-time Auburn scoring list with 1,380 career points, passing Linda Godby on the charts.

Forward Louise Emeagi finished with 12 points. Everyone that played in the game for Auburn scored.

"I'm really proud of our players because it's hard to stay focused going into Christmas break," Fortner said. "We were very aggressive defensively. We wanted to hold them to 45 points, and we hold them to 44. Today we did some good things that we can build on and get ready to play in our holiday tournament."

The Tigers are off until the Auburn Firehouse Subs Holiday Classic Dec. 29-31. The 2004 Holiday Classic features a round-robin format with Auburn, Duke and Rhode Island competing.

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