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Furman Falls At Auburn In WNIT, 78-64

Holli Wilkins
Holli Wilkins

AUBURN, ALA. -- Tyrese and Tra'Cee Tanner combined to score 17  points apiece and Auburn used effective defensive pressure to outlast Furman, 78-64, in Women's National Invitation Tournament first round basketball action Thursday evening at Auburn Arena.

The win advances Auburn (18-14) into the tournament's second round to face Old Dominion.  Furman (18-13), which defied its preseason No. 6 pick in the Southern Conference with a second place regular season finish, completed its most successful campaign in a decade.

"I want to congratulate Auburn on a well played game and wish them luck in their next game, but I want to also say how proud I am our our girls and the effort they showed tonight," said Furman head coach Jackie Carson, the SoCon's consensus coach of the year.  "I thought we did a nice job on them in the first half and were able to make a run at the end of the first half to keep it close.  In the second half, though, I think their pressure got in our heads a bit, and we just couldn't counter their runs.  They also shot the ball better in the second half and got some easy baskets out of transition."

Auburn, which failed to connect on seven 3-point attempts in the first half, converted 4-of-7 treys and shot 48.3 percent from the field over the game's final 20 minutes to pull away from Furman, which used a 7-0 run at the end of the first half to trail 32-28 at intermission.

The Paladins were led by Holli Wilkins' 17 points.  Sarah Durdaller tallied 12 points, as did Kelsey Ellis, who came off the bench late to drain 4-for-5 shots from 3-point range to post a new career high.

Brigid Morrissey had a game high nine assists to extend her Furman career standard to 191 assists.  She finished her career with 364 assists, good for fourth all-time in program history.

Khady Dieng added 16 points for Auburn, and Brnady Montgomery finished with 11.

Brittany Hodges converted a layup to open the second half and cut Auburn's lead to 32-30, but the Tigers answered with a 10-2 run, capped by a layup by Tyrese Tanner to stake the Tigers to a 42-32 lead.

FUrman cut it to 42-35 following two Janice Roberts free throws and a free throw from Whitney Bunn, but Brandy Montgomery's 3-pointer pushed the advantage back to double digits at 45-35 with 12:47 left.

Kelsey Ellis' third of four 3-pointers with 2:31 to go helped Furman cut into a 20-point deficit, cutting the lead to 70-58, but that was as close as the Paladins would get.

The Paladins shot 36.8 percent from the field (21-of-57) while Auburn finished at 44.3 percent (27-of-61).

The Tigers posted a 43-36 advantage on the boards.