Payne Makes AU History With Triple-Double

Junior Marita Payne was a one-person blockfest in Auburn's SEC basketball victory over Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.--Fifteen points, 12 rebounds and 13 blocks by Auburn's Marita Payne set the tone for Auburn's 62-51 win over Arkansas Thursday night. It was the first ever triple-double in Auburn basketball history--women or men.

"I like to look up stuff like that on the Internet," Payne said about the first career triple-double in school history. "I found that out a few months ago and that's been one of my goals.

"There have been a few games this year where I felt like I should have gotten a triple-double and I get angry with myself for that fact that I get so close and don't get it," the six-foot-five junior from Melbourne, Australia added. "Tonight I was extremely happy with the fact that I could pull it out. I guess I got a little bit of a roll there."

Payne's 13 blocks was a school single-game record. She also broke her own school single season record earlier this year, but she says she's not done yet.

"The SEC season record is 131 and I would like to break that," Payne said.

She now has 106 for the year, an average of 5.3 per game. Payne has 51 blocks through the first seven games of SEC play, a 7.3 average.

The win improved Auburn to 11-9 overall, 2-5 in SEC play. Arkansas dropped to 13-8, 2-7 in the conference.

The game was overall just plain ugly, as the Tigers had 20 turnovers and gave up an incredible 25 offensive rebounds to an Arkansas frontline of 5-11 and 5-11. The Lady Razorbacks scored only eight second chance points off the 25 offensive rebounds and made 17-72 shots from the floor--a lowly 23.6 percent.

"It wasn't pretty, but it was a win," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. "You don't get style points in basketball so we'll take that. We're really proud of what Marita did tonight with her triple-double. You don't see that happen very often and we're proud of her for that.

"She does a good job with where she positions her hands on blocks," she added. "She was going against some shorter post players and she was able to judge the ball better."

Early in the first half it looked like Arkansas didn't read the scouting report on Payne. The Lady Razorbacks took the ball inside only to have their shots blocked before they mixed things up for the rest of the half.

Auburn held a 27-21 lead after a first half which saw 21 turnovers--12 by the Tigers and nine by the Lady Razorbacks.

In the second half Fortner went to a lineup of Payne and four bench players--Tanesheia Thompson, Nitasha Brown, Tiffany Presley and Aileen Rossouw--after some sloppy play by the starters to build a 42-32 lead with 10:52 remaining.

"The first team came out after a turnover, a bad pass and there wasn't a lot of focus," Fortner said. "The orange team (second team) has been playing well in practice and we gave them a chance and they stepped up. I thought our bench was very good tonight."

However, with Payne on the bench with four fouls, the Lady Razorbacks fought back and tied the game at 51-51 at the 5:23 mark.

Four made free throws by Auburn's Nicole Louden and put-backs by Natasha Brackett and Payne were enough to put the game out of reach as Payne's blockfest continued on the other end of the court with blocks nine through 13 ensuing on four straight Arkansas possessions.

The Lady Razorbacks failed to score in the final 5:23 of the game and fell to the Tigers 62-51.

"Obviously, Marita was a huge difference in the game," said Arkansas coach Susie Gardner. "We saw the tape when she blocked eight shots against LSU and we knew our hands were full. When you're guarding 5-11 and 5-11 it's a little easier opportunity there.

"At the end of the second half we just didn't score--we didn't put the ball in the hole," Gardner added. "We didn't shoot well the whole game. We've been in that position many times in non-conference. We weren't hitting any shots at all from the outside and she was just swatting it. We didn't have great decisions and in that scenario you'd try to hit some shots from the outside"

Leading Arkansas in the losing effort were forwards Sarah Pfeifer with 17 points and 12 boards and Danielle Allen with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

"I thought Sarah and Danielle played about as hard as they could," Gardner said. "They brought their heart and they played as hard as they could."

The only other Tiger in double figures scoring was Louden with 12 points.

The Tigers started conference play against four ranked teams in the first six games. They found themselves at 0-5 before beating Alabama for their first win, but lost to top-ranked LSU Sunday 57-52.

A win Thursday night might have been what Auburn needed gain momentum heading down the stretch of SEC play. The Tigers have seven regular season games remaining and only one against a ranked opponent.

"We've been talking about it," Auburn senior guard Natasha Brackett said of the Tigers' postseason hopes. "We still have a chance. We've been talking about playing as hard as we can for these next eight games and try to make something happen."

Auburn plays two road games against South Carolina on Sunday at 2 p.m. and Vanderbilt on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. before returning home to play Kentucky on Feb. 13 at 2 p.m.

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