Gators Hold Off AU In SEC Women's Hoops Opener

Gainesville, Fla.--Despite 29 points from junior forward Louise Emeagi, the Florida Lady Gators spoiled Nell Fortner's SEC coaching debut with a 67-60 victory over Auburn on Sunday.

The visiting Tigers, who fell to 9-5 with their third straight loss after winning nine straight, had a chance to win until the final minute. However, the Gators kept the heat on the visitors with clutch shooting to pull out the victory.

Florida, which improved to 2-0 in the SEC and 11-4 overall, got 22 points from guard Tamia Williams, who hit three-point shots to help put the game out of reach. She was 8-12 from the field with 4-8 on threes.

Emeagi scored a career-high by hitting 10-20 field goals, including 5-10 threes and 4-4 at the free throw line. She added six rebounds. Her previous high was 18 points vs. Grambling earlier this season.

Louise Emeagi

Center Marita Payne contributed 12 rebounds and added six points and three blocks for Auburn. Guard Tiffany Presley added rebounds while scoring two points in 34 minutes of action.

"I thought we played well enough to win," Fortner said. "We just allowed too many free throws in second half. We were up by six and let them get free throws to get them back in the game. I did see a lot of positives today, though. We have a lot of good stuff to build on."

The Gators were 19-27 at the foul line while Auburn made 9-10 free throws. The Tigers out-rebounded Florida 40-36, but had 17 turnovers, three more than Florida.

Auburn shot 36.7 percent from the field to 38.9 for the home team, which got 17 points and nine rebounds from forward Bernice Mosby.

Auburn, which fell behind by eight points early in the game, cut the gap to 29-27 at halftime. Auburn led by as many as six points in the second half after taking its first lead at 17:14 to play on a trey by Natasha Brackett, who struggled with her shooting. The senior made just 4-15 field goals while scoring 12 points to go with eight rebounds.

Florida regained the lead at 52-51 on a three-point shot by Williams and she hit another three with 3:25 left to put the Lady Gators ahead 55-54. Auburn never caught the Gators after that.

Auburn returns to action with a Thursday home game at 7 p.m. vs. 12th-ranked Vanderbilt.

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