ATLANTA – It took three games for Johnnie Harris to earn her first win at Auburn. It only took one more to pick up the Tigers’ biggest win in years.
Auburn’s defense put together its best performance of the year, and Honesty Scott-Grayson turned in her second straight standout game as the Tigers upset No. 18 Georgia Tech 59-51 Sunday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion.
The Tigers (2-2) jumped out to a big early lead – increasing it to as much as 22 in the second half – and held off a comeback bid by Tech (4-1) for its first road win over a ranked opponent in nearly eight years.
“We just wanted our kids to go out and fight,” Harris said. “I told them when we left the locker room that we were the underdog. But I love being the underdog, I won a national championship (at Texas A&M) being an underdog. But nobody knows what’s in your heart. When you’re and underdog, they don’t know what to expect. So come out and let’s fight and let’s see what happens. And I thought my team responded to things.
“We made them uncomfortable, we made them score in ways they weren’t used to scoring. I saw it in their eyes. They wanted it. They want to win. They want to be good. They fight, but they’ve got a fighter with them. We’re in this fight together. And I believe in them. We’re going to put them in positions to be successful.”
Honesty Scott-Grayson never came off the floor, scoring 18 points along with six rebounds and three assists. She had her best 3-point shooting game of her career as well, going 4-of-8 from long range.
“I can’t even explain it. I’m just excited,” Scott-Grayson said. “It was good to get a team win. I felt like we came out with energy, we came out with a game plan and we followed the plan. We were self-disciplined and we took care of our business today.”
Aicha Coulibaly added 14 points with five boards, and Sania Wells delivered four clutch free throws in the final minute to clinch the victory; she finished with eight points.
Annie Hughes also played all 40 minutes, finishing with seven points and a pair of assists. Jala Jordan turned in a strong performance on both ends of the floor, finishing with four points and three rebounds while also drawing three charges to help Auburn set the tone early.
As a team, Auburn shot a season-best 40.7 percent while holding Tech to a season-low 35.2 percent. Auburn was 10-of-14 at the free-throw line (71.4%) and made five 3-pointers; the Tigers also committed just nine turnovers while turning 15 Tech turnovers into 12 points. Tech out-rebounded Auburn 39-29.
Auburn hit its first seven shots of the game to build an early 16-6 lead less than seven minutes in. Both teams went cold over the final few minutes of the period, but Scott-Grayson hoisted a 25-footer at the buzzer to give the Tigers a 19-6 lead after one.
Tech went nearly 10 minutes without scoring as Auburn pushed its lead to as many as 20 points at 29-9 with 5:14 to play in the half. The Jackets would finally find the hoop, but Auburn led 33-16 at the half.
An opening layup from Coulibaly and a 3-pointer from Scott-Grayson gave Auburn its largest lead at 38-16 with 8:42 left in the third. But from there, the Tigers hit a cold spell as Tech heated up, cutting that advantage to just seven points after three, 44-37.
The Yellow Jackets would get as close as five points with just over two minutes to go. But a pair of stops led to Tech having to foul in the final minute. Wells was sent to the line twice, knocking down all four free throws to stay perfect on the season, and Scott-Grayson hit one more late to seal the final margin.
Auburn’s win was its first over a ranked opponent since defeating Missouri at home in 2019, and its first over a ranked foe on the road since a 2014 victory at No. 16 Vanderbilt.
Georgia Tech was led by Lotta-Maj Lahtinen with 12 points; Nerea Hermosa added 11.
The Tigers continue a two-game road swing as Auburn travels to the state capital of Arkansas to face Little Rock. Game time is noon CT at the Jack Stephens Center on the UALR campus.