Lady Vols survive tough SEC road challenge

Pat Summitt and her team had not felt much heat from any SEC team this season, that is until they went to Auburn on Sunday afternoon. Auburn pushed Tennessee to the very end and the Lady Vols were very lucky to slide out with a win.

Gwen Jackson scored 16 of her 20 points in the second half and No. 3 Tennessee survived its biggest scare of the Southeastern Conference season, beating Auburn 59-56 on Sunday.

The Lady Vols (22-3, 10-0 SEC) won their 13th straight game despite hitting just two of six free throws in the final 58 seconds, shooting 35 percent and making only 2-of-15 from 3-point range. It was their worst offensive performance since a 76-55 loss to Duke on Nov. 24.

Auburn (17-7, 5-5 SEC) had several chances to force overtime. Natasha Brackett, who had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, hit two 3-pointers in a 14-second span to make it 58-56 with 33 seconds left.

Loree Moore then made one of two free throws eight seconds later.

The Tigers couldn't get a good shot on the next sequence against a smothering defense, with center Mandisa Stevenson firing an airball from the top of the key with 9 seconds to play.

Le'Coe Willingham forced a turnover on the inbounds pass, giving Auburn another shot. LaKeisha Johnson's 3-pointer from the left wing bounced off the rim with 2 seconds remaining.

Moore missed two more free throws but Auburn couldn't get a desperation shot off in time.

Moore finished with eight points, six assists and three steals while Brittany Jackson had nine points off the bench.

Tennessee wasn't used to getting that kind of challenge in the SEC this season, winning its first nine league games by an average of 25 points and its last two by a combined 82.

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