AU WOMEN’S HOOPS: Tigers fall just short vs. No. 18 FSU

Jordan Greenleaf and the lady Tigers gave it their all but could not defeat #18 FSU

Nell Fortner wants to test her team early.

She wants to show them what it’s going to take to be a tough team, a ranked team, a tournament team.

That’s why she scheduled No. 18 Florida State and No. 6 Duke in the span of four days for the Tigers’ second and third games.

“I guess I was pretty crazy back at that point in time, I don’t know,” Fortner said. “I’ll have to look back at those days and wonder what I was thinking.
But this is a competitive bunch of players. They don’t want to play anything less than this.

“This is what makes you better.”

The Tigers had the Seminoles on the ropes for much of the game Monday night, but Florida State’s superior size won out in the end of a 67-61 Auburn loss in front of 2,176 at the Auburn Arena.

Florida State (2-0) outrebounded the Tigers (1-1), 47-29, including 17 offensive boards.

The Seminoles enjoyed a 25-11 rebounding margin after the half.

“We’ve got to do a much better job boxing out,” Fortner said.

“We’ve got work to do on keeping people off the boards and not fouling as much, so they’re not on the free-throw line.”
Florida State hit 10-of-12 free throws in the final 8 minutes, as it methodically cut into the Tigers’ 7-point lead.

Two Cierra Bravard foul shots with 48.4 seconds to go put the Seminoles up 63-61 and, after an Alli Smalley miss, Alexa Deluzio hit two more to make it a two-possession game with 24.2 seconds left.

Deluzio led all scorers with 23 points, and Bravard had 12 points to go along with 10 boards.

Smalley, Auburn’s leading scorer last year, struggled to a 6-point night, shooting only 2-of-15 from the floor.

“I thought they were very physical with Alli, and we talked to the officials about it,” Fortner said. “The rule is you can’t impede her progress. Well, they impeded her progress. But that’s just the way the game was called. She has to make the adjustments to that.”

The Tigers built a 30-23 halftime advantage with a 16-0 run in the final 6:30 of the first half.

Florida State committed eight turnovers during that stretch, and the Tigers forced 29 Seminole miscues on the night.

“I thought we just were warriors on the defensive end. No doubt,” Fortner said. “We’ve got to find a few more ways to score the ball, maybe get a little more movement on the court. But, again, it’s early.”

Auburn and Florida State traded mini-runs for the first 12 minutes of the second half, with a Morgan Toles layup putting the Tigers up 54-47 with 7:58 to go.

The Seminoles finished the game on a 20-7 run from there to come away with the win.

Blanche Alverson led the Tigers with 16 points, Jordan Greenleaf had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Toles added 15 points and seven assists as Auburn tried to find offensive answers other than Smalley.

“We all had the green light,” Greenleaf said. “Whoever had the open look, whoever had the best shot at the time could take it. They were covering Alli pretty good. Because of that covering, everyone knew they had to get open and get their looks.”

After facing one Elite 8 team from last year, Auburn takes on another — Duke — on Thursday.

dmorrison@oanow.com | 737-2568

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