Unique Thompson scored 25 points in a double-double performance, Dasia Alexander added 22 points, and the Auburn women’s basketball team topped Wofford 84-82 on Wednesday to open its season with a victory.
Thompson’s put-back lay-in with two and a half minutes left capped a crucial 6-0 run for the Tigers in the late stages, which broke a 66-66 tie with less than six minutes left and put the Tigers in position to survive in the final moments.
Thompson starred throughout the game for the Tigers, fighting three injuries in their backcourt and playing pieces out of position while three new freshmen made their collegiate debuts.
Thompson tallied 11 rebounds for Auburn. Auburn led by six in the final 14 seconds before Wofford hit a meaningless 3 at the buzzer to make it a 2-point margin of victory.
“We pulled it out, and won this game with as much stuff as we have going on,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “But everybody contributed and did what they needed to do to get this win.”
Auburn played with two freshmen point guards out with injury, pulling the shooting guard Alexander out of position to run the point.
Alexander hit six free throws in the final 20 seconds to ice the win.
Sophomore Brooke Moore scored 15 points while freshman Annie Hughes scored 10 and added four assists in her first game as a Tiger.
Thompson scored 14 first-half points, with eight coming in the second quarter to help stretch what was an 11-11 game at the end of the first quarter to a 35-24 lead for Auburn at halftime.
The visitors battled back, though, after Auburn took a 58-48 lead into the fourth, but on the strength of the veterans Thompson and Alexander, the Tigers escaped to get to 1-0.
Hughes was thrust into a critical position playing the top of Williams-Flournoy’s press defense. She fared ‘OK’ there, Williams-Flournoy said, though the coach’s defense gave up 34 fourth-quarter points.
“They’ll figure it out. The thing is, honestly, we have so many young kids, and our defense, it takes a little while for you to learn it,” Williams-Flournoy said.
Wofford was pegged by the Southern Conference coaches as the second-best team in the league this preseason, though the Terriers have never made the NCAA Tournament.
Auburn’s made the tournament three of the last four years.
Wofford’s Chloe Wanink scored 28 points with Da’Ja Green scoring another 25, but Thompson, the junior standout picked as a preseason All-SEC selection, proved to be a difference-maker for the Tigers.
“We knew that we kind of had an advantage on the inside, and that I could post and just score easily,” Thompson said. “So that’s what we did in practice, and I just came out and I executed.”
Thompson was key to another separation run for Auburn in the second quarter when the Tigers outscored Wofford 24-13 in the frame. She scored six of Auburn’s points in a 10-2 run late in the second to stretch a four-point lead to an 11-point advantage.
It was 22-19 when that run started, before Thompson knocked down two free throws, scored a second-chance basket inside, then sank another two free throws to give her six points in that run spanning just more than two minutes of play. Hughes and Kiyae’ White both scored to cap it and make it 32-21 with 2:13 til half.
The teams traded three points each from there on the way into the locker room.
Auburn returns to the court against Old Dominion on Nov. 14. Williams-Flournoy said earlier in the week that the Tigers hope they’ll have a healthy backcourt by then.