NC State eliminates Auburn in WNIT
AUSTIN, Texas – The Auburn women’s basketball team saw its 2016-17 season come to a close Friday afternoon as the 11th-seeded Tigers fell to sixth-seeded North Carolina State 62-48 in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Auburn (17-15) found itself in a big early hole, trailing by 17 at halftime and as many as 27 late in the game, but fought back to cut the final margin to 14 points with a 25-point outburst in the fourth quarter. However, a combined 12 points in the second and third quarters were too much for the Tigers to overcome.
“We knew NC State was a very good team and that they could score,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We did a good job at times but we didn't do a good job enough to stop them from scoring, and we struggled scoring as well, but we continued to play hard, and that's who we are. We were relentless all the way to the end.”
After a first half where Auburn struggled to take care of the ball – the Tigers turned it over 10 times while forcing just six – Auburn’s trademark pressure defense came alive in the closing minutes, forcing 14 second-half NC State turnovers that turned into 18 Auburn points.
Sophomore Janiah McKay led Auburn with 12 points, scoring eight of those in the fourth quarter. Senior Katie Frerking tallied nine points, two blocks and two steals in her final collegiate game, and senior Brandy Montgomery closed out her Auburn career with a team-leading five rebounds.
Sophomore Erica Sanders matched a season-high with eight points in a return to her home state, and Jazmine Jones scored seven and swiped a team-leading four steals.
Auburn finished the season forcing 709 turnovers, setting a new school record for a season (previous record: 702 in 1986-87). The Tigers also had 367 steals, seventh-most in program history.
Frerking finished as the Tigers’ leading scorer with 501 points (15.7/game) and had a team-leading 82 steals, tying for second-most in a single-season in Auburn history. She also led Auburn in rebounds with 203 (6.3/game) and blocks with 32 (1.0/game).
“I think it was an interesting season,” Frerking said. “It was a little bit of a roller coaster. We had some good wins, a lot of close games and some tough losses, and it's a long season, and that happens, but I'll say I've played here four years, and this is my favorite team I've ever played on here, because we are relentless.
“And no matter what came against us, no matter what we faced, we always bounced back, and we had 13, 14, 15 girls who just wanted to be out there, and we loved each other, and we just played hard. It was a good season. I'm proud of everybody.”
Auburn was within two at 11-9 midway through the first quarter, but NC State ended the period on a 10-2 run to take a 21-11 lead after 10 minutes. The Tigers then went ice-cold in the second quarter, hitting just 1-of-12 attempts as NC State extended its lead to 32-15. The Wolfpack led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers ended the game on a 19-6 run over the final six-plus minutes.
Dominique Wilson led NC State with 23 points and Miah Spencer added 13.
This was Auburn’s 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the second straight for Williams-Flournoy. The Tigers are now 30-20 all-time in the Big Dance.