Auburn selected to NCAA Tournament as No. 9 seed

AUBURN, Ala. ( – The Auburn women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 as the Tigers were selected to the 64-team field, which was released Monday night.

The Tigers (19-12) were named the No. 9 seed in the Dallas Regional and will face No. 8 seed St. John’s (23-9) in the first round Friday in Waco, Texas. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. CT at the Ferrell Center.

“We had to wait all week, and for it to come up that quickly, that was great,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “I was very nervous, especially after Florida Gulf Coast lost (Sunday). We’ve played St. John’s twice (in the last two years), so they’re good in knowing that it’s not a team that we don’t know anything about. The big picture is just getting the players to understand that you have to take it one game at a time. That’s what we’ve got to get them to understand.”

This will be Coach Flo’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament as Auburn’s head coach and her third overall. She led Georgetown to a Sweet 16 berth in 2011 and a trip to the second round in 2012. She is 3-2 as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament.

“When you go back and look at the last two years and all that this group has gone through … I’m so happy and so proud of the way they fought last year, ending the season the way they did,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We’ve just been through so much as a team. But it made them grow together as a team. The chemistry on this team is unbelievable. I can’t even explain how excited I am for this group.”

No. 1 seed and Big 12 champion Baylor (33-1) will face 16th-seeded Idaho (24-9) in the other matchup Friday at 4 p.m. The two winners will meet Sunday at a time to be determined.

Auburn is in the NCAA field for the 19th time in program history and the first time since 2009. The Tigers have made three trips to the Final Four, finishing as national runner-up in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Auburn is 29-18 all-time in the Big Dance.

“We’ve had a lot of faith this week,” Auburn senior Tra’Cee Tanner said. “We’ve been practicing ever since the SEC Tournament. We’re prepared, we’re excited, and this is all that we’ve hoped for the entire season.”

“It meant so much when I saw that ‘Auburn’ come up on the screen,” senior Cabriana Capers said. “And then I saw St. John’s, and I’m instantly thinking, ‘OK, rematch.’ It means so much. It means all the hard work and the trouble we went to were worth it, because now we’re here. We’re putting Auburn back to where it used to be.”

The Tigers are 1-1 all-time against St. John’s and will be facing the Red Storm for the third-straight season. Auburn defeated St. John’s 69-55 at home on Dec. 6, 2013, and the Red Storm won the return trip in Queens, N.Y. on Dec. 20 of last season, 56-49.

Auburn will be making its second trip to Baylor for women’s basketball. The previous trip to Waco saw the Tigers capture the 2003 WNIT championship with a 64-63 win over the Lady Bears in the only prior meeting in the series on April 4, 2003. Auburn and Idaho have never met.

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