Lady Vols drop first conference loss to Auburn

Published 12:21 am Friday, January 28, 2022

AUBURN, Ala. – No. 4/5 Tennessee suffered its first conference loss of the season on Thursday, falling 71-61 to Auburn at Auburn Arena.
Junior Jordan Horston led UT (18-2, 7-1 SEC) in scoring with 21 points and eight rebounds, and graduate Jordan Walker tied her season-high of 17 points.
Aicha Coulibaly was the leading scorer for Auburn (9-10, 1-7 SEC) with 26 points. Sania Wells, Jala Jordan, and Annie Hughes were also in double figures with 13, 11, and 10, respectively.
The game started out as a back-and-forth affair with Tamari Key and Coulibaly each scoring the first five points for their teams, tying the game at five-all just under two minutes into play. An 8-0 run by the Lady Vols had Tennessee up 10-5 a minute later before a layup by Coulibaly pulled the Tigers back within three at the 5:56 mark.
Walker responded with a trey on the next possession, the first of seven straight UT points that put the Big Orange up 17-7 with 3:36 left in the quarter.
Wells got on the scoresheet for AU with a pair of free throws a minute later, setting off a 9-0 run to pull the Tigers within one at the end of the first, 17-16.
Coulibaly tied the game up with a free throw 47 seconds into the second period. Rae Burrell answered with a jumper, but the Tigers were up by three by the 8:17 mark courtesy of five quick points by Jordan.
Tennessee then went cold offensively, and AU continued to expand its lead, going up by nine off an old-fashioned three-point play by Coulibaly at the 2:32 mark. Sara Puckett and Walker both added buckets for UT to cut the deficit to six just over a minute later, but Wells and Jordan closed out the half with five straight points for the Tigers, making the halftime score 39-28.
Horston opened the second half with a pair of free throws, and Coulibaly countered with a jumper on the other end before Burrell set off a 12-0 run that saw the Lady Vols reclaim the lead by the 5:08 mark.
The lead would change hands twice before Auburn went back ahead by four at 48-44 with 2:41 left in the third. Walker rallied Tennessee with a 3-pointer that she followed up with a jumper in the paint to put UT up by one a minute and a half later.
Burrell knocked down two free throws to stretch Tennessee’s lead to three, but Mar’shaun Bostic drove the length of the floor to hit her first field goal of the game at the buzzer, sending the game into the fourth with the Lady Vols ahead 51-50.
Auburn carried that momentum into the final stanza, reclaiming the lead and stretching it to five before Horston and Key combined to fuel a 6-2 run to pull the Lady Vols within one with 4:32 left in the game.
Coulibaly once again rallied the Tigers, hitting a layup that Hughes followed up with a 3-pointer to give Auburn a six-point cushion with 2:27 to play. Bostic added another layup, and the Tigers converted on free throws to stretch their run to 11-0 in the closing seconds
Walker hit a layup just before the buzzer for Tennessee, setting the final score at 71-61.
UP NEXT: The Lady Vols will return home for a rematch with Arkansas on Monday. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the contest will be broadcast on SEC Network.
GO JORDY GO: With 21 points against Auburn, Jordan Horston turned in her fourth 20+-point performance of the season and second in SEC play. She is averaging a double-double in conference games at 16.7 ppg. and 10.0 rpg.
CLEANING THE GLASS: Tennessee won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding Auburn 43-30. UT has had double-digit rebound margins in 16 of 20 games this season and has been beaten on the boards only once by Stanford.

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