Jada Mincy, Ashley Awkward and Armintie Price played with as much energy and athleticism as they've ever played with, but it just wasn't enough to beat the Tigers.
"Obviously I'm disappointed that we couldn't help these three seniors put an exclamation mark on their careers at Tad Smith Coliseum," Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross said. "One loss does not define them or what they have meant to this program, and I would hope that after a day of thinking about what they have accomplished here in this building that they will pick their chins up and realize all the good that they've done."
Ole Miss (20-9, 9-5) began the game in full control on senior day, jumping out to a 13-2 lead before pushing the lead out to 20-6.
However, Auburn made a surge towards the end of the first half and went into the locker room down only 24-23.
It took Price until the 3:29 mark of the first half to make her first basket, although she had made several big defensive plays throughout the first half, finishing the half with just three points but with a game-high five assists and six rebounds as well as four steals.
The first half was full of turnovers, with the Tigers turning the ball over 13 times compared to the Rebels' 10.
In the second half, while Ole Miss was never really out of it until the end, Auburn really took it to the home team, eventually pulling ahead for good.
"I thought it was a great effort on our part not to lose our composure early when the score was 17-4 and Ole Miss was on a pretty good run," Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said. "But we didn't lose our composure, we hung in there and go into the half just one down."
The Tigers would eventually take a 44-42 lead, after trading baskets with Ole Miss, and never again relinquished the lead.
Auburn's Tamela McCorvey and Sherell Hobbs led all scorers with 13 points, while KeKe Carrier, Auburn's 6-foot-7 sophomore, added 11 points, three rebounds and two blocks of her own.
Awkward and Alliesha Easley led the Rebels with 11 points, while Mincy added 10. Price, who averaged 18.4 points heading into Sunday's contest, scored just 6 points on 2-for-7 shooting. Price did however have a game high six steals and 13 rebounds.
Before the game Price, Mincy and Awkward were honored for their work on the hardwood and were presented with framed jerseys.
"It was very emotional, just knowing that I'm going to be missing two of my best friends, and we're going to be gone," Price said. "But we still get a couple more games to play together."
The Rebels will return to action Thursday when the SEC Tournament begins.
"We're excited about what we have accomplished in the regular season," Ross said. "We're excited to be able to close the door on the regular season and move forward into the greatest tournament in the country, and that's the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament."
Ole Miss finished the regular season in fifth place in the SEC standings. The Rebels will face the 12th place Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round of the 2007 SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga, just outside of Atlanta. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. (CST) Thursday evening at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
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