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Women’s basketball finishes preseason tour of Australia strong

Shark Week.

The Auburn women’s basketball team closed out its team trip to Australia in style on Monday with an 84-46 victory over the Sutherland Sharks in Menai, Australia.

That win came off of the heels of a huge 67-58 win over the Sydney Uni Flames on Sunday, where the Tigers were redeemed themselves against WNBL competition after falling to the Logan Thunder in their first game Down Under.

The Tigers played four exhibition games against professional teams over the duration of their 10-day trip, two against the Thunder and the Flames of the WNBL — Australia’s premier professional women’s basketball league — and two against local club teams Cairns Dolphins and Sutherland Sharks.

Auburn dominated in its tour finale against the Sharks, building a 51-22 halftime lead before cruising to the deciding win, and leaving Australia with a 3-1 record.

Senior forward (and kangaroo lover) Blanche Alverson scored 17 points in the first quarter alone to help build the Tigers’ early lead against the Sharks, finishing with a team-high 25 points. Sophomore guard Hasina Muhammad followed closely behind with 24 points.

The Tigers outscored their professional opponents 286-261 over the tour’s four games. Auburn fell to the Thunder by a score of 86-54 in the exhibition opener before defeating the Cairns Dolphins 81-71 and closing out the trip with wins over the Flames and Sharks.

Muhammad was a machine for Auburn all trip, scoring 24 against the Thunder, 16 against the Dolphins, 29 against the Flames, and 24 against the Sharks for an average of 23.3 points-per-game over the course of the trip. Alverson wasn’t far behind, boasting an average of 17.5 points-per-game.

The short-handed Tigers were only able to dress and play seven players Down Under, including two true freshmen. Freshman Chadarryl Clay scored 10.5 points-per-game while freshman Nicole Tanner scored 9 points-per-game in their first collegiate actin.

The end of exhibition play in Australia marks the final time the Tigers will be in action until the regular season tips off in November.

You can see the box score from the Tigers’ win over the Flames, complete with play-by-play and shot charts, right here, via the WNBL. You can hear Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy discuss the victory over Sutherland in this video from Auburn athletics. The team also kept an official tour blog, featuring videos and entries from each day of the trip. And check out these photos from the Flames game published by an Australian photographer (and forgive him for the album title, if you can).

The Auburn women’s team tips off its regular season on November 9 at the Wolfpack Invitational on campus at NC State.

Until then, Auburn fans have to be optimistic going into Williams-Flournoy’s first season at the helm after a successful 3-1 campaign Down Under. Here’s hoping that the inexperienced freshmen continue to grow, that Blanche Alverson stays Blanche Alverson, and that Hasina Muhammad can somehow find a way to duplicate these performances in the Northern Hemisphere.

But, hey, if you can’t get enough Australian women’s basketball this summer, the Sydney Uni Flames take on the Oklahoma Sooners this Friday.

Photo via Auburn assistant women’s basketball coach Caroline McCombs.

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