Bonner Sets Record As Tigers Advance

DeWanna Bonner and the Auburn Tigers defeated Ole Miss to advance in the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament.

North Little Rock, Ark.--Senior DeWanna Bonner scored 32 points and set a new Auburn career scoring record as the Tigers advanced to the semi-finals of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament with a 71-65 victory over Ole Miss on Friday.

Bonner scored 32 points as she hit 12-19 field goals and 7-9 free throws. The SEC Player of the Year also led the Tigers on the boards with 13 rebounds. She now has 2,084 points.

"It's a tremendous honor to be able to be up there with the top scorers," Bonner said. "I'm excited, but I'm not focused on it. I am ready to play the next game and keep adding to hose points."

Auburn's other All-SEC player, senior guard Whitney Boddie, produced a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists plus seven rebounds.

Auburn improved its record to 28-2 and never trailed in the game despite struggling at the foul line. The Tigers, normally a good shooting team at the line, made just 14-25 free throws. Ole Miss fell to 17-14.

Saturday's semi-finals matchup is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CST as the Tigers take on Tennessee, a 71-67 victory over Florida on Friday night. Other semi-finals matchup pits Vanderbilt vs. LSU.

The Tigers hit 27-59 field goals while Ole Miss made 27-66 shots. Auburn was 3-11 on threes and Ole Miss made 5-23.

Senior Sherell Hobbs scored just five points, but did a strong defensive job on Ole Miss star Bianca Thomas, who scored 31 points vs. Arkansas on Thursday in the opening round of the tournament. Thomas made just 5-15 field goals and scored 12 points.

"That was the plan," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "It was to absolutely smother her as best we could.

"She is a tremendous shooter and it really makes a difference for their team," Fortner added. "I thought our game plan was very good on her and I thought it was executed well by the team."

Shawn Goff picked up the scoring slack for the Rebels by producing a career-high 25 points, 17 of which came in the first half, to go with 12 rebounds.

Auburn started strongly, moving to a quick 10-2 lead as Bonner and Smalley nailed threes in the opening minutes.

The Tigers led the entire half and built the lead to as many as 10 points on a layup by freshman forward Chantel Hilliard to make the score 25-15 with 7:38 on the clock. However, the Tigers went cold after that and struggled on the boards as the Rebels had a 12-3 run to cut the lead to 28-27 at the 3:00 mark.

Auburn then regrouped and did a better job rebounding. The Tigers took the lead back to eight points before going into the locker room at halftime up 35-29.

At the break the Tigers were shooting 41.9 percent from the field hitting 13-31 shots while Ole Miss was at 37.9 percent making 11-29 shots. Auburn made 3-9 threes and Ole Miss hit 1-6.

The Tigers struggled at the foul line in the first half making just 6-14 while Ole Miss hit 6-10.

Each team had 19 rebounds in the first half while Auburn had five first half turnovers to six for Ole Miss.

Bonner had 14 points with 10 rebounds at halftime for the Tigers and Smalley scored nine.

Like they did in the first half, the Tigers started strongly to begin the second period. AU quickly built the lead into double figures on a fastbreak basket by Boddie to make the score 39-29.

Auburn scored the first 11 points of the half to build a 46-31 lead. Auburn's 46th point was a 15-footer with 16:03 to play by Bonner, who broke the Auburn scoring record of 2,068 points that Becky Jackson set from 1980-1984.

The Tigers stretched the lead to 51-33 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Bonner at the 14:02 mark.

However, the Tigers couldn't put away the Rebels until late in the game.

Ole Miss cut Auburn's lead to 66-63 on a basket by Goff with 57 seconds. Boddie then hit a baseline jumper left with 33 seconds remaining to take the lead back to five, but Shantell Black scored a layup with 26 seconds left to cut the lead to 68-65.

"I was just trying to make a play," Boddie says. "They were kind of pressuirng me and I was trying to make a play. It went in."

Whitney Boddie (left) battles Shawn Goff of Ole Miss for the basketball.

Bonner was fouled with 19 seconds to play and made both of her free throws to build the lead back to five. After a missed three by Elizabeth Robertson of Ole Miss, Boddie rebounded the ball and was fouled. She made one of her two free throws to make the final score 71-65.

Auburn out-rebounded the Rebels 38-27 and had 11 turnovers, one more than Ole Miss.

Fortner said she was happy with Auburn's defense on Thomas. "She's a player that can change a whole game in about two minutes so you cannot let her get on track," she said.

"I thought our game plan was very good on her and it was well executed by the team."

Ole Miss coach Renee Ladner had high praise for Bonner. "Today their All-American stepped up," she said. "She played like an All-American."

Game Notes: DeWanna Bonner picked up her eighth double-double of the season with 32 points and 11 rebounds. It was the 39th of career...Whitney Boddie's double-double was the 13th of career...Auburn's 28 wins are tied for the fourth-most ever in school history and are the most since 1989-90...The Tigers improved to 32-25 all-time in the SEC Tournament and Nell Fortner is 4-4 in the tournament as AU's head coach...Auburn is 3-2 all-time when playing in Little Rock, Ark...The Tigers are 69-2 when scoring 70 or more points in the Nell Fortner Era...Bonner's rebound with 2:02 left in the first half tied her for second place all-time at Auburn in career rebounding with Lori Monroe (1979-83) at 1,015 and she finished the game with 11 rebounds giving her sole possession of second place with 1,017 rebounds...With the win, Auburn advanced to the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time since winning it in 1997...Auburn's all-time record vs. Ole Miss in the league tournament improved to 5-3.

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