Never A Smooth Ride

By Jeff Lippman - December 16, 2007

On any road to greatness, there will be bumps along the way. The bumps make the journey worthwhile. They build character. Without the bumps, there'd be no triumphs later.

Nell Fortner and the Auburn Tigers never expected to go the entire season undefeated. They never even expected to be undefeated after nine games.

But when they put their 9-0 record on the line at No. 12 Texas A&M Saturday, leaving College Station 9-1 has still got to sting a little.

Coach Fortner should refrain from being too discouraged after the team's first loss on the season. To look at the score sheet, one might not be able to tell who was the winning team.

Auburn finished with four players in double figures, A&M only two. While the Tigers shot under 40 percent at 38.6, the Aggies only managed 41.7, and both teams went 4-of-10 from long range. In fact, Auburn shot much better from the free throw line.

The only problem for the Tigers was that many of this came too little too late. Texas A&M jumped out to a 39-28 halftime lead and Auburn spent the entire second half trying to make up for that, which they almost did on numerous occasions.

In fact, Auburn went on two second-half 7-0 runs, the second closed the score to 57-56 with close to three minutes to play. On Auburn's next possession, their All-American candidate, junior 6-foot-4 guard DeWanna Bonner, missed a jumper that would have given the Tigers their first lead since the 11:09 mark of the first half. Instead, A&M's A'Quonesia Franklin nailed a three that made it 60-56 and the Tigers never recovered.

It was the first game in 10 days for Auburn, who play again on Dec. 17 against Stephen F. Austin. The Tigers have dates with Sam Houston State, Davidson and George Washington before a Jan. 10 battle against No. 1 Tennessee.

Sure, the Tigers, as well as the rest of the nation was hoping they'd be undefeated for their battle with the Lady Vols. But now that Fortner and her Killer B's have lost a game, now that they have that losing taste in their mouths, they won't want to experience it again.

This loss might have just made the team that shows up less than a month from today in Knoxville a whole lot better.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2007

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