Short-Handed Tigers Keep NCAA Hopes Alive

The Auburn women's basketball team had a bittersweet night on Thursday. The Tigers beat Florida but were playing without suspended Whitney Boddie and KeKe Carrier.

Auburn, Ala.--Playing without a pair of key players due to suspensions, Auburn kept its NCAA Tournament hopes alive by beating Florida Thursday night 78-62 to improve to 18-11 overall and 5-8 in the SEC.

"I just think we're a strong bubble team if we win on Sunday (at Ole Miss) and get a win in the tournament," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "If we win on Sunday and get two wins in the tournament we're in. One and we're a strong bubble team. Our RPI (ratings percentage index) is really good and our strength of schedule is really good."

The Tigers may be going the rest of the way without point guard Whitney Boddie and center KeKe Carrier, who were "suspended indefinitely" by Fortner prior to the game for "conduct detrimental to the team."

"It's very disappointing," she added. "As a coach and dealing with young people they don't always make good decisions. We're dealing with young kids here."

In Boddie's absence Tamela McCorvey ran the show at the point and had eight points, seven assists and four boards. She started at that position in several games early in the season, but playing it full-time rather than shooting guard was a change of pace against the Gators.

"It was kind of different," McCorvey noted. "I had to get adjusted to playing more point guard but I handled it well."

Carrier hadn't been playing much because of leg injuries, but Jordan Greenleaf filled the void and had a career-high 16 points and six rebounds. DeWanna Bonner scored 15 and had 11 boards.

"I thought it was a great effort by the team to stay focused and do some nice things offensively," Fortner said. "I thought our running game was really good pushing it in transition and we had a couple of nice backdoor plays to DeWanna.

"Whitney was scoring for us and was a definitely an offensive threat any time the ball was in her hands," she continued. "Other people have to step up and I thought we had that tonight. Jo (Joanna Clayden) hit some nice shots. (Alexis) Ogubie came in and had a couple of nice shots on the block and played good defense. Look at Greenleaf--she had 16 points tonight. That was nice and it was definitely taking up the slack."

It was a special night at the coliseum for Clayden, the lone senior, who scored 11 points on 4-13 shooting in her final game at Beard-Eaves.

"It was fun actually," Clayden said. "My friends were like, ‘We're just going to change it to Jo night.' I just played my heart out because it was my last home game. I didn't think I was going to be emotional about it, but I was. It was a great game.

"Ever since I came here I was told I had the green light," she said of her 3-10 shooting from behind the arch. "If I'm open I shoot it. I was feeling it tonight. A couple were short and a couple were long, but it was feeling good."

Florida, which dropped to 7-21 overall and 1-12 in conference, got 17 points from Sha Brooks and 14 from Depree Bowden.

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