No. 3 UT Too Tough For Tigers

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn women's basketball fought hard against the third-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols Thursday night at Beard-Eaves, but sophomore phenom Candace Parker was too much to overcome as Tennessee won 72-62.

Coach Pat Summit's squad continued its pursuit of an undefeated SEC season and improved to 22-2 overall and 9-0 in the SEC. UT's only losses are to No. 1 Duke and No. 2 North Carolina. Auburn, fighting for a position in postseason play, dropped to 17-8 and 4-5 in the league.

The Lady Vols didn't shoot great from the floor, making just 27-67, but were able to corral 19 offensive rebounds.

"I thought if we could have kept them off the offensive boards a little better, then we might have had a shot there at the end," said Auburn coach Nell Fortner. "We just gave up too many second chance opportunities."

The Tigers appeared timid early on against the tradition-rich Lady Vols, scoring just two points in the first six-plus minutes of the game. Tennessee played tough man-to-man defensively and forced Auburn into difficult shots in racing out to a 10-2 lead. The two teams played evenly for the rest of the half as Tennessee took a 32-24 advantage into halftime.

"It's daunting," Fortner said of the Tennessee defense. "Their pressure is daunting and we don't have anything in our practice that can simulate that. You practice what you can and you tell them what they are going to face, but there is nothing like when you get into that environment and it's happening to you."

In the second half a Jordan Greenleaf jumper cut UT's lead to six, but Parker took over and quickly turned it into an 18-point affair. Led by Whitney Boddie running the floor, KeKe Carrier scoring inside and DeWanna Bonner sinking free throws, the Tigers cut the lead to seven with five minutes remaining.

The Tigers had a chance to make it close down the stretch but Hoover, Ala., native Sidney Spencer hit a three and a pair of two-point baskets to put the game out of reach.

Sophomore center Keke Carrier, who has missed most of the conference season with a stress fracture in her foot, saw her most extensive action since prior to her injury.

Bonner led Auburn with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Carrier had 11 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. Boddie scored just seven points, but had nine assists.

"I was really pleased with our effort," Fortner explained. "This is still a young team. We are still trying to grow up in this league, but I thought we did some good things. I thought that KeKe Carrier playing 20 minutes tonight and being very productive with her minutes was important."

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