AU WOMEN’S HOOPS: Alverson paces Tigers in big win

Alverson scored a career-high 27 points as Auburn beat Ole Miss, 85-73

Auburn bounced back from its first conference loss of the season with its best offensive performance against an SEC team since the game the Tigers clinched their SEC regular-season title in 2009.

Blanche Alverson torched the nets for a career-high 27 points as Auburn beat Ole Miss, 85-73, in front of 2,277 fans at Auburn Arena on Thursday night.

It was the Tigers’ most points against an SEC opponent since putting up 94 against Arkansas on March 1, 2009, and Alverson’s 27 points were
Auburn’s most by an individual since Alli Smalley’s 29 in last season’s SEC Tournament.

“(Alverson) had some big hits tonight, and she put up some great numbers,” Tigers coach Nell Fortner said. “It opens up a lot of opportunities for other players to get some shots when she puts in baskets like that.

“The basket was really about as big as the ocean for her.”

Alverson scored 16 points in the first half as the Tigers (10-7, 3-1 SEC) gained a little bit of separation from the Rebels (8-7, 1-2) at the half, taking a 36-33 lead into the break.

The sophomore topped her career high of 17 points merely 10 seconds into the second half, nailing a 3-pointer to put Auburn up 39-33.

She finished 11-of-17 from the field, including a 5-of-8 mark from beyond the arc.

“Being able to hit my first three shots was a confidence boost,” Alverson said. “Everyone else was hitting all their shots, which allowed me to keep getting my shots off.”

Alverson’s 3 touched off a 13-3 Auburn run in the first 3:13 of the second half, growing the Tigers’ lead to 49-36.

The Rebels never got closer than 8 the rest of the way, and Auburn led by as many as 15.

“As a team we haven’t been great at coming out after the first half,” said Jordan Greenleaf, who finished with 15 points. “This game we really tried to come out and attack them and put them on their heels.”

Auburn was active on offense all night, with all 11 players that saw the court scoring at least 2 points.

The Tigers dished out 20 assists against 12 turnovers, their second-best assist total of the season behind the 23 they recorded in a 79-60 win over Jacksonville State.

Point guard Morgan Toles — as she often does — led Auburn in that department, dishing out eight assists to go along with 12 points and five rebounds.

“It’s us getting comfortable with each other,” Alverson said. “Throughout the season we have gotten comfortable with everyone out on the floor and we don’t care who we pass to. We just hit the open person.”

Auburn shot 50 percent (31-of-62) on the night and 7-of-17 from 3-point range, answering every run the Rebels could muster.

Montgomery native Kayla Melson paced Ole Miss with 29 points — 21 coming after the half — and Shae Nelson scored 21 on 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.

“Everything just kind of came together tonight and I am really happy with the results of the game,” Fortner said. “We are getting more confident and more experienced, so it was a great win for us.”

dmorrison@oanow.com | 737-2568

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