AU Suffers First Loss to Hot-Shooting Xavier

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands--The Auburn women's basketball team suffered its first loss of the season, dropping a 75-64 decision to Xavier on Thursday night in the opening round of the Paradise Jam tournament.

The Tigers, 3-1 overall, will play Western Michigan in a losers bracket game at noon CST on Friday and will face Western Michigan at noon on Saturday. Xavier improved to 4-0 with its comeback victory.

Auburn trailed 8-4 early, but the Tigers then scored 19 unanswered points to build a 23-8 lead at the 10:26 mark on a layup by sophomore center Keke Carrier.

However, AU went cold with its shooting in the final minutes of the first half allowing Xavier to trim its halftime lead to 32-29.

Less than two minutes into the second half Xavier pulled ahead 34-32. Auburn grabbed the lead back at 37-34 on a basket and free throw by sophomore forward DeWanna Bonner, but the Musketeers took control and outplayed the Tigers the rest of the night.

Auburn coach Nell Fortner said her team didn't play with enough toughness on defense to deal with a veteran team that started five seniors. She noted that her team played well in spurts, but needs to play more consistently from start to finish. "There is no time off," Fortner said. "You have got to play hard all 40 minutes."

Auburn shot just 27.9 percent after halftime while Xavier came out hot, hitting 70.9 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes.

The Tigers enjoyed a 43-31 rebounding advantage, but that wasn't enough to overcome the shooting differential. Auburn finished the game at 35.1 percent from the field to 56.6 for the Musketeers.

Auburn was led in scoring by guard Sherrell Hobbs. The sophomore hit 8-12 shots to finish with 19 points. Bonner added 16 for the Tigers and Carrier finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds, but made just 5-20 field goals.

Joei Clyburn was the game's leading scorer with 23 for Xavier. She hit 9-15 field goals. Amber Harris added 19 points.

Both teams had 12 turnovers. Auburn was 9-12 at the free throw line and made 3-10 threes while Xavier hit 12-25 free throws and 3-7 treys.

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