Coach Nell Fortner's Tigers will take a 20-12 record into the game vs. 19-14 Virginia Tech. The Tigers defeated UAB 74-60 on Sunday after receiving a first round bye while Tech won by 10 points vs. Western Carolina to advance to round three of the 48-team event.
The Tigers won the title back in 2003, the only time they have played in the WNIT.
To advance past Thursday's night game to play the winner of Thursday night's Illinois vs. Kansas State matchup, the Tigers will have to defeat an ACC team featuring four starters who are scoring in double figures led by 5-10 senior guard Kirby Copeland. She is averaging 15.3 points per game. Nare Diawara, a 6-6 senior forward, is next with her 12.3 points per game average to go with 8.1 rebounds per contest.
Tech, which played in the NCAA Tournament last season, gets 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest from 6-0 senior guard Brittany Cooke and 10.0 points and 3.9 rebounds from senior guard Britney Anderson.
The other starter for the veteran Tech squad is 5-10 sophomore guard Laura Haskins, who averages 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Sophomore center Keke Carrier will be a key player off the bench for the Tigers.
Auburn features a much less experienced starting lineup with sophomores Sherrell Hobbs (11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds), DeWanna Bonner (14.9 points, 8.2 rebounds) and Whitney Boddie (8.0 points, 4.3 rebounds) joined by freshman forward Jordan Greenleaf and junior guard Tamela McCorvey (9.1 points, 2.6 rebounds).
Auburn will have 6-7 sophomore Keke Carrier to match up with Tech's 6-6 Diawara, but Carrier won't be able to be on the floor for extended minutes, Fortner says. "Injury-wise she is fine," the coach notes. "Conditioning is what is keeping her back now. She is just not close. We take what we can get now as far as the minutes she can play. It is just not a lot right now."