Next season starts now.
Auburn women’s basketball was bounced from the SEC Tournament after one win on Thursday, falling 90-68 to sharpshooting Arkansas in a disappointing end to a disappointing season.
Auburn led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter, eyeing an upset over the fifth-seeded Razorbacks, but Arkansas hit nearly 60-percent of its shots in the second quarter to take a commanding 37-24 lead into the half.
While Arkansas held Auburn’s star junior Unique Thompson to just two points in the first half, the team’s lone senior Daisa Alexander mustered 10 first-half points trying to keep her team in it on her last stand — but it wasn’t enough. Auburn ended the year at 11-18 overall.
“I thought we started with great energy. It was just hard to keep it going,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy was quoted as saying after the loss. “Then playing such a tough game yesterday, I’m sure their legs got a little tired. But they continued to fight.
“I’m just proud of the way they ended the season,” she said of her players.
Entering as the 13th seed after some tough breaks during the regular season, Auburn proved it was at least better than its seeding with a 77-67 win over 12th-seeded Vanderbilt in the opening round on Wednesday. But on Thursday, Arkansas hit 17 3-pointers, and Auburn couldn’t keep its season alive any longer.
Auburn will miss the NCAA Tournament after making it in three out of the previous four years under Williams-Flournoy.
Alexander finished with 12 points. She will be Auburn’s only graduating departure from this year’s squad.
Thompson scored 12 points and brought down 15 rebounds for her 22nd double-double this season, and will return next season as a first-team All-SEC player.
“I’m just going to use it as more fuel,” Thompson said after the loss. “Going into my last year, I know I can’t leave anything. I’ve made my mark at Auburn, but I can’t just stop here. I have to keep going and I have to continue to build a legacy here for myself.”
Auburn started the season with two point guards hurt and having to call upon Alexander, a natural scorer, to take more of a role distributing at point in the early going. Then early in SEC play, Alexander got hurt and missed action as problems started to snowball, all the way up to the team’s leading 3-point shooter missing the trip to Greenville with a concussion. Auburn closed its regular season with a one-point, buzzer-beater loss to Tennessee last Sunday, making for five SEC losses for Auburn by a combined 17 points in regulation.
“I think just the injuries throughout the year, having young kids, really called for an up-and-down season,” Williams-Flournoy said.
Auburn will have at least two roster spots to fill next season with Alexander’s departure and in replacing 2019 signee Maliya Perry who left the team before the season started in earnest and transferred to Dayton.