AUBURN, Ala. – Junior Ayana Brereton scored 14 points to lead the Lady Razorbacks, but the Auburn Tigers closed the Southeastern Conference women’s basketball regular season with a 74-57 win over the University of Arkansas.
Brereton had 14 points for Arkansas, followed by Brittney Vaughn with 10. The Tigers countered with four players in double digits led by freshman Alli Smalley with 17 points.
Arkansas, 17-12, closes the regular season at 2-12 in SEC play. Auburn evens its league record at 7-7 and 19-10 overall.
With the win Auburn takes the sixth seed at the SEC tournament, and faces Arkansas for a second straight date in the opening round of the SEC Tournament at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn. Tipoff for Arkansas-Auburn is 9 p.m.
The winner of UA-AU faces the tournament’s third-seed, Vanderbilt. The last time Arkansas was the 11th seed, it defeated Miss State to face Vanderbilt. The last time the SEC tournament was held at the Sommet Center, Arkansas also faced Vanderbilt, but in the event semifinals.
Auburn gets sole possession of sixth as Florida rallied from down double-digits at halftime to defeat Ole Miss at Oxford, 72-66.
“We have three days to prep, get back in the gym and get ready to play,” Collen said.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Arkansas cut the Tiger margin to one point, 38-37, but Smalley scored the first eight points of the second half to keep Auburn in the lead. Smalley had 15 of her 17 points in the second half to take the Tigers from a tight game into a runaway.
The Lady’Backs held Auburn scoreless for four minutes while working back to within a bucket before a three-point play by DeWanna Bonner allowed the Tigers some breaking room.
“It was a similar game to the first game,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “We got behind and made a game of it. We were savvy for about two-thirds of the game.”
Arkansas refused to go away until the latter minutes of the game. Trailing by only two, 48-46, with 10:43 left, the Lady’Backs finally ran out comebacks. Hitting only two free throws for the next six minutes, Auburn used a 19-2 run fueled by six points from Bonner to put the game away, 67-48, with 3:59 to play. Arkansas was held scoreless for over four minutes and without a field goal for six minutes during the Tiger run.
“They made their run and we looked up and saw the 10-point margin,” Collen said. “From there, it was hard to get back in the game.”
The Lady’Backs got off to an early lead, but Auburn erased a fast start by Vaughn with an 8-0 run to take control in the opening minutes. Arkansas pulled back within one twice, but the Tigers were able to keep their lead into halftime, 35-29.
The Lady’Backs kept the Tigers’ leading scorer to only two first-half field goals. Bonner racked up 28 points in the team’s first meeting.
Smalley led all with 17 followed by Sherrell Hobbs with 16, Bonner with 15 and Jordan Greenleaf with 14.