AU Women's Basketball 1-6

Auburn's Annie Hughes has her shot blocked by Arkansas during the 86-70 win by the No. 20 Razorbacks on Sunday in Auburn Arena. (Justin Lee/jlee@oanow.com)

Amber Ramirez scored 25 points and the No. 20 Arkansas women’s basketball team beat Auburn 86-70 on Sunday in Auburn Arena to spoil the Tigers’ conference home opener.

Auburn fell to 6-7 on the season and 0-2 in SEC play.

The Tigers matched strides with their nationally ranked opponents for the first five minutes, but then in a one-point game, Arkansas closed the first quarter on a 14-1 run to stretch open a 26-12 lead by the end of the first period.

Arkansas didn’t look back, on the way to 13-2 overall. Auburn struggled on the defensive side again. The Tigers also gave up 26 first-quarter points in their SEC opener at Vanderbilt last Thursday.

“We knew Arkansas was a very good offensive team and could score the basketball and could shoot the 3 extremely well,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “Our defense definitely was not up to par and we know that we’ve got to be a better defensive team.”

Senior Daisa Alexander and sophomore Brooke Moore led Auburn offensively with 19 points each.

Defensive struggles have been part of the story all season for Auburn, now giving up 73.6 points per game after Auburn gave up just 63.6 points per game last season. There was turnover in the offseason at key positions for Auburn, and the mix of returners and newcomers on the roster have yet to master the havoc-wreaking press system that Williams-Flournoy employs.

“I think it’s a matter of effort on the defensive end,” Alexander said. “Ever since I’ve been at Auburn, we’ve never been this bad defensively. And it’s frustrating because we’re supposed to be a defensive team, but everybody’s not giving it 110-percent to make that extra step to cut somebody off or to get out to the shooters.”

Auburn averaged 26.2 points off turnovers per game last season, and in Sunday’s game had only two points off turnovers through the first three quarters. The Tigers did manage 10 points off turnovers in the fourth quarter to give Auburn something to revisit on film going into Thursday’s game against Florida.

“We can’t wait until the fourth quarter,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We did the same thing at Vandy. That same defensive effort and intensity that you have in the fourth quarter, we’ve got to start the game like that.”

Auburn tips with Florida at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Auburn Arena. The Gators are 10-5 overall and 1-1 in SEC play.

“I know we can score, but we can’t trade 3’s for 2’s,” Alexander said. “So either our defense is going to get better or we’re going to keep getting the same results.”

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