Tigers Improve to 15-0 As Seniors Shine

Auburn, Ala.--Sherell Hobbs scored 19 points and fellow senior DeWanna Bonner added 17 as the Auburn women's basketball team cruised to a 79-55 victory over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Coliseum.

Playing in the first half of a doubleheader with the men's team, Coach Nell Fortner's ninth-ranked Tigers dominated the boards with a 48-27 rebounding margin. Hobbs, a six-foot small forward, led all rebounders with nine.

"I thought she did a nice job," Fortner said of Hobbs. "That is just being aggressive on the boards, obviously on the offensive boards with six of them. She has the ability to do that. We want to get that out of our three (small forward) player."

Hobbs was 11-11 at the free throw line and added four assists in 30 minutes. "We put emphasize on rebounding every day in practice," she says.

Hobbs notes the Tigers reached one of their goals by going 15-0 in pre-conference play. The Tigers begin their SEC season on Thursday at 6 p.m. CST at South Carolina. "Our next goal is to win the SEC Championship," she says.

Bonner says the strong start will allow the Tigers to begin conference play with a lot of confidence. "You have got to stay focused," the All-America candidate says. "SEC and preseason are totally different. You have got to come out ready to play every night."

Bonner says the Tigers have all of the pieces, including team chemistry, to challenge for the conference title. Hobbs agrees, saying, "I think we are as good as anybody in the country."

While that remains to be seen if they are as good as everybody else in the conference much less the country, the Tigers were much better than the visitors on Saturday and won without being particularly sharp.

Stephen F. Austin, which fell to 5-7, was led by 19 points from Tammara Marion, who made all five of her team's three-pointers.

"I am really pleased with finishing our non-conference season undefeated and taking that momentum into the start of our conference season," Fortner said.

Despite the comfortable margin of victory, Fortner saw plenty of room for improvement. She pointed out the Tigers only got off 57 shots and she wanted to see the team shoot better from the field. The Tigers hit 47.4 percent of their field goals including 2-8 threes and 23-32 free throws.

"Playing against a zone kind of slows us down a little," she said. "That is something we will have to continue to get better at."

Sherell Hobbs shoots for the Tigers.

The Tigers got 12 points from senior forward Trevesha Jackson, who added six rebounds, and 10 points from sophomore guard Alli Smalley, who chipped in with four rebounds and four assists.

Auburn was never seriously threatened after jumping to a 14-0 lead at the 16:34 mark on a three-pointer by Smalley. At halftime the Tigers were on top 40-25.

The Tigers committed 17 turnovers, one more than the visitors, who hit just 36.7 percent of their field goals. The Ladyjacks were 7-11 at the foul line.

Commenting on Auburn, SFA coach Lee Ann Riley said, "They're very talented, they play with a lot of poise, and they understand who they need to get the ball to on what plays."

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