Backed into a corner in their home court by half time, the Auburn women’s basketball team needed to find a way around Texas A&M’s turnover-inducing defense on Thursday.
A shoulder-to-shoulder student section that filled in preparation for the men’s game against Alabama appeared, at first, to be the solution. Auburn’s basketball sisters Tyrese and Tra’Cee Tanner turned a first-half blowout into a second-half contest.
Down 32-16 to start the half, the Tanner sisters showed up. The increasingly louder cheers from the crowd funneled energy into the sisters, and the game.
Tyrese Tanner steals a ball from Courtney Walker and puts in a layup. Tyrese Tanner misses a layup off of a rebounded ball, but her sister is there for the offensive rebound and score. Tra’Cee Tanner steals another ball from Walker, catches another offensive rebound and lays another two points onto the board. Tra’Cee Tanner blocks Walker’s layup to keep the score 24-34 before Tyrese Tanner knocks in a jumper.
Auburn was on the way to a comeback until Tyrese Tanner committed her fourth foul with 17 minutes left on the clock.
“When we made that run and we were down by seven, she picked up her fourth foul,” said Auburn’s head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. “It’s hard for this team to keep fighting when their senior leader is in foul trouble.”
In the first half, Tanner was not in foul trouble, but not a factor in the game and was shut out by A&M’s defense. Tra’Cee Tanner struggled as well with four points. Without the Tanner sisters playing at their best, Auburn was shooting 21.7 percent from the field.
When the Tanner sisters showed up ready in the second half, Auburn raised its field goal percentage to 40 percent. The Tigers doubled their output from the first half in just seven minutes. Unfortunately for the Tigers, there are 40 minutes in a game.
After Tyrese Tanner was pulled out, the Aggies woke back up. Two eight-point scoring runs led by powerful in-the-paint play quieted the crowd. Texas A&M ran away with their fourth consecutive SEC road win, while Auburn fell in their fourth consecutive SEC loss to the tune of 71-54.
“We were very fortunate to be able to start the game well enough to take your students out of the game,” said Texas A&M’s head coach Gary Blair. “Those students would have really been riled up if y’all would have been able to take the lead. I know what a student body crowd can do.”
Senior Tyrese Tanner played 23 minutes of the game because of her foul trouble, but was still the Tigers’ leading scorer with her 15 second-half points. Sophomore Tra’Cee Tanner played for 36 minutes, and added 11 points.
Although the Tigers and the Aggies had a combined 49 turnovers, those were not the deciding factor in the game.
The Aggies’ size advantage was what determined the outcome. Size domination allowed them to score 46 points in the paint and rein in 41 rebounds, led by senior Karla Gilbert and sophomore Courtney Williams.
“The pressure was pretty good,” Tyrese Tanner said. “Forcing a team to have that many turnovers, we should have won. Twenty-seven is a lot, but we didn’t turn the turnovers into enough points.”
The Aggies move forward looking to win one more away game at Vanderbilt before finally returning home to face Louisiana State University.
Auburn hasn’t won a game since Jan. 16 against Alabama, and they are ready for a change.
The Tanner sisters and the Tigers will try to turn things around at Arkansas on Feb. 2. In their last meeting, Auburn defeated Arkansas 50-47. Tyrese Tanner added 15 points and Tra’Cee Tanner put in eight.
“We are hungry,” Tyrese Tanner said. “We are going to continue to play hard. We have to play better in the first half like we did in the Kentucky game, but we didn’t finish. If we play hard for the whole 40 minutes we will win.”
Written for Sports Reporting, JRNL 3530, taught by Dr. Carvalho at Auburn University