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Coulibaly's career-high leads Auburn pass Ole Miss in OT

Aicha Coulibaly's 31 points lifted Auburn to their first win in SEC play as they defeated Ole Miss, 77-76 in overtime.

AUBURN, Ala. — No matter how Ole Miss tried to defend her, the Rebels had no answer for Aicha Coulibaly. 

The junior scored five of Auburn’s seven overtime points, finishing with a career-high 31 to lead Auburn to a 77-76 comeback win over Ole Miss Sunday at Neville Arena. 

“It feels amazing and I know they have my back. They trust in me, that’s why they keep giving me the ball,” said Coulibaly, who made 12 of 20 shots, led Auburn with seven rebounds and drew eight fouls from Ole Miss defenders. “I was ready. I wanted to win. I was tired of losing.” 

Coulibaly banked a 3-pointer for Auburn’s first OT points, surpassing her previous career best of 27 points vs. Charleston Southern on Nov. 26, 2021. 

Her 31 points were the most by an Auburn player in an SEC game since the 2016-17 season when Katie Frerking scored 32 at Texas A&M. 

“When we got in tough situations, we went to our leader and she came through,” Auburn coach Johnnie Harris said. “She carried us to victory.” 

Coulibaly added a pair of free throws that put Auburn ahead 75-74 with 1:47 to play. Kharyssa Richardson’s steal led to Honesty Scott-Grayson’s layup to give the Tigers a 77-74 lead with 1:08 remaining. 

Ole Miss answered quickly to trim the Tigers’ lead to one. Auburn turned it over twice in the final minute, but the Tigers made two defensive stops to secure the victory, including a missed Ole Miss jumper with two seconds left. 

Coulibaly rebounded and the Tigers celebrated their first SEC win enthusiastically, befitting a triumph over a rival that brought a 16-3, 5-1 record to the Plains.   

“We had a lot of fans today. They support us every time even though we’ve had some adversity,” Coulibaly said of the season-best Neville Arena crowd of 3,093. “Their support means a lot.”

“I thought they played tough, hard-nosed, physical and aggressive, and that’s what we preach to them,” Harris said. “It was time to put together a complete ballgame. and I thought they did that today.” 

Scott-Grayson and Mar’Shaun Bostic each scored 11 points and Richardson added eight.

Trailing 37-23 with 3:14 remaining in the first half, the Tigers used a 10-0 run to pull within four before the Rebels scored the final four points of the quarter to take a 41-33 halftime lead. 

Scott-Grayson started the run with a free throw that gave her 1,000 career points as a collegiate player, adding a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws during the run. 

“When I need her to get the ball and create, she can get the ball and create,” Harris said. “Honesty was huge in that game, not just scoring, but all the other things she does.” 

Auburn ended the third quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 57-53, outscoring the Rebels 24-12 in the period. 

Scott-Grayson started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer that extended Auburn’s lead to 60-53. 

Auburn went scoreless for nearly five minutes, plagued by turnovers and missed shots during an 8-0 Ole Miss run that gave the Rebels a 64-62 lead. The Tigers got hot down the stretch, making their next four shots. Bostic ended the drought with a layup. 

“When I attacked, they either fouled or I scored,” Bostic said. “If I keep attacking, I can either get my teammates open or make a layup. Coach J always says get downhill.” 

Coulibaly’s jumper tied it 66-66 and Bostic’s steal and layup gave Auburn a two-point lead. After the Rebels hit a floater, Sania Wells made a layup to put the Tigers in front 70-68 with a minute to play. 

Angel Baker tied the game at 70-70 with 34 seconds remaining. Baker led Ole Miss with 25 points. The Tigers missed a shot and the teams traded turnovers in the closing seconds to send the game to overtime. 

Credit: AP
From left, Auburn's Honesty Scott-Grayson, Kaitlyn Duhon and Aicha Coulibaly celebrate a foul during the second half of an NCAA basketball game against South Alabama on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

“We work as hard as anybody else,” Harris said. “When we go into overtime, that’s our time. It’s go time. It’s time to take it to them.” 

It was Auburn’s first overtime victory since Nov. 30, 2019, when they defeated Dayton 74-72. 

Auburn (11-8, 1-6) plays at Kentucky Thursday at 6 p.m. CT before returning to Neville Arena Jan. 30 against Florida at 6 p.m. CT.

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