DULUTH, Ga. - The Auburn women's basketball team gave No. 22 LSU all it could handle, but came up just short as Auburn fell 65-62 Thursday at The Arena at Gwinnett Center at the 2013 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament. LSU (20-10), the No. 6 seed, will move on to play No. 3 seed Georgia at 7:30 p.m. CT, Friday while Auburn, the No. 11 seed, falls to 16-14 on the season.
Auburn was down 18 with less than 12 minutes left in the game, but rallied back to cut the deficit to two with just seconds remaining.
"I thought they gave a great effort in the second half, it just took too long to play," said Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. "If we'd have come with that same type of intensity at the start of the game, we wouldn't have been in the situation to be down by 18."
Blanche Alverson led Auburn in scoring with 17 points and nine rebounds with two steals, while freshman Chadarryl Clay came off the bench to add 14 points and three steals. Tyrese Tanner added 11 points and five rebounds with two steals in the effort.
Auburn was down 15 at halftime, scoring just 24 points in the opening period. A different team returned to the court in the second half, though, as AU out-scored LSU, 38-26.
"I told them in the locker room we had to attack the basket, we were just standing out there settling for jump shots," said Williams-Flournoy. "Every game that they've won, teams have just stood out there and shot jump shots, and that's how they lose the ballgame. We had to attack the basket and get to the free throw line."
Auburn held strong with LSU to open the game, trailing by just one point midway through the first period. An 8-0 LSU run increased the lead to nine with 8:39 to go, and LSU had its way the remainder of the half, eventually leading by as many as 15 going into the locker room.
LSU forced 10 Auburn turnovers in the first half, leading to 16 points off turnovers. At the break, LSU's Theresa Plaisance and Adrienne Webb had combined for 22 of its 39 points with 11 apiece.
"I told them in the locker room at halftime that we had to play for the name on the front of our jerseys," said Williams-Flournoy. "We had fans to come down, we had our administration here. You have to show our fans and administration some effort. They worked extremely hard to help us get to where we are, and you're not even playing hard. That's not who we are. That's not what we do."
Auburn came out in the second half and cut the LSU lead to 10 with 17:18 remaining, but LSU immediately utilized a 12-4 run to make it an 18-point game with 12:03 to play.
Williams-Flournoy's Tigers never let up, and Auburn's comeback ran out of time as it outscored LSU 16-4 in the final 8:30 of the ballgame.
A 3-pointer from Clay started off Auburn's late run, as jumpers from Tra'Cee Tanner and Alverson made it a five-point game with just under six minutes to play. A trey from LSU's Webb made the lead eight once again, but both teams went scoreless for more than two minutes until another jumper from Alverson put Auburn within six.
The teams battled in the last two minutes, trading free throw opportunities and rebounds as Clay put up a desperation three from half court that bounced off the rim, and LSU held on to pick up the win and advance to the next round of the tournament.Webb led LSU in scoring with 18 points, while Plaisance finished with a double-double 15 points and 14 rebounds.