Women's Hoops Team Taking On Tuskegee

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Nell Fortner says her team has practiced enough and it is time for a game.

Sunday at 2 p.m. her Auburn women's basketball Tigers will do that with an exhibition game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum vs. Tuskegee University.

Fortner's rebuilding Tigers will start two seniors, a sophomore and two freshmen and will count on a youthful bench to lend support.

"It is that time of the year when it is time to play," Fortner says. "You have practiced about all you can. The kids are ready to play and be competitive against someone else so, in that regard, they are looking forward to it. We still have some things that we need to put in, but basically it will be good to see us go up against someone else."

The Tigers were expected to start three freshmen, but last season's Miss Basketball in Alabama, Whitney Boddie from Florence High, is expected to see only limited action as she recovers from a leg injury.

"We have a big challenge in front of us with Whitney Boddie being limited in her role," Fortner says. "She is not 100 percent, but we will be able to use her at times.

"That has put a kink in our plans, but everyone has responded well and stepped up to cover that void, but she is definitely a difference-maker for us," the second-year Auburn coach says. "We are looking forward to getting her back full force."

The Tigers are expected to start two other freshmen, 6-4 guard DeWanna Bonner from Birmingham and 5-11 guard Sherrell Hobbs from Huntsville.

The other projected starters are 6-5 senior center Marita Payne, 6-2 sophomore Alexis Ogubie and little-used 5-9 senior point guard Nitasha Brown, who will play the spot where Boddie was expected to start.

Other newcomers expected to see action include 6-7 center Keke Carrier, 6-4 forward Juanitta Wallace and 6-0 guard Joanna Clayden. Freshman guard Chantelle Blakely is injured and not available for duty and it is uncertain if she will play this season.

Aileen Rossouw, a 6-1 sophomore, is expected to add inside depth off the bench.

Auburn must replace its top three scorers from last season. The group includes guard Natasha Brackett (17.1), forward Louise Emeagi (11.6) and point guard Nicole Louden (10.6).

Auburn hasn't played Tuskegee since 1990 and holds a 17-5 lead in the series that began in 1971 prior to the start of NCAA women's athletic competition. This year's team doesn't feature a starter taller than 5-10, but the Golden Tigers feature a veteran squad that posted a 19-10 record last season. The last time the two teams met Auburn was a 98-39 winner.

Auburn, which finished 16-13 last season, will open the regular season on Nov. 19th vs. Texas-Pan American at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

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