Another chance to play

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 30, 2013

Auburn senior Blanche Alverson and the Tigers will face Drexel tonight at 6 in the WNIT Quarterfinals. |                                                             Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics

Auburn senior Blanche Alverson and the Tigers will face Drexel tonight at 6 in the WNIT Quarterfinals. | Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics

Andalusia native Blanche Alverson will get another opportunity to wear her Auburn uniform tonight as the Tigers host Drexel in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) Quarterfinal at Auburn Arena.

Alverson scored 10 points for Auburn in the Tigers’ 72-52 win over Tulane on Wednesday night. Alverson’s teammate and fellow senior, Tyrese Tanner, had a double-double — 25 points and 11 rebounds — to lead Auburn in the victory.

The Tigers had big runs, but Tulane wasn’t going to go down easily with huge comebacks of its own, according to

The Green Wave cut the the game to 49-44 until back-to-back 3-pointers came from Auburn outside shooter Najat Ouardad and Alverson.

Alverson said her 3-pointer came with a lot of confidence because the Tigers had played Tulane in a close 70-65 victory in New Orleans on Nov. 28.

“We knew we were a whole different team and a better team since then,” she said. “We didn’t play well down there. We had to come back from a 16-point deficit at halftime. We knew if we could play it the way we’re supposed to, then we could play it pretty handily and finish it out.

“Everytime we would start to build a lead and get into that 20-point lead, they’d make a run and cut it to 10,” she said. “In our first couple of possessions, we weren’t expecting them to play zone. Then they started to make a little run. After that, our point guard made a shot and I made a shot, and they were like this is it. That was a big change because I hadn’t been shooting the ball well at that point. Finally, I had hit a couple shots, and they were like there goes that.”

With its size advantage and guard play, Auburn has swept its way through its three WNIT games already. The Tigers beat UAB 80-57 and Western Kentucky 84-6t in their first two rounds before facing the Green Wave on Wednesday night.

So far in the WNIT, Alverson said it’s been fun. The senior played in the WNIT during her sophomore year.

“It’s definitely been a different experience than a couple years ago in my sophomore year,” she said. “This experience has been completely different bcause we’ve been able to play at home. We’re really looking at (the quarterfinal game against Drexel) as another opportunity to play, another opportunity for me to keep playing in an Auburn uniform. I think I realize that and my seniors realize that.”

Asked what her thoughts are on the game tonight against Drexel, Alverson said the team is “excited” about another opportunity to play at home. The Tigers will have played all of their WNIT games at home so far.

“I think we play really well at home,” she said. “So, it’s awesome that we’ve been able to stay and keep on moving on and playing at home. We’re looking at the Drexel game as really just another game where we can use the opportunity to get better and kind of propel this team to the next season.”

Getting this far in the WNIT shows what direction the program is going, Alverson said.

“This is the first season with a new staff,” she said. “Obviously, we wanted to make the NCAA tournament, but for a first season as a new staff making it this far in the NIT, and having a chance to win the whole thing is awesome for a first-year staff.

“That only says great things about the staff and (Auburn) coach (Terri Williams) Flow (Flournoy) and what the future of this program holds,” she said.

When asked what the future holds for the former Buford, Ga., standout, Alverson said she’s going to keep playing the sport she’s passionate about.

“After I graduate in May, I’m going to see what opportunities come about professional wise,” Alverson said. “I’ll end up over the next year playing internationally, hopefully in a fun place.

“I’m looking for what opportunities come and what doors open, and I’m just taking it day by day,” she said. “I graduate with a degree in biomedical sciences and I’m trying to figure out if that’s the direction I want to go in. For me, basketball is such a passion of mine, that if I had the opportunity to come back and coach and still be involved with basektball doing something I love, it would be an incredible opportunity. So, that’s something I’m pretty heavily considering right now is the coaching aspect. I’m just going to take this next year to figure it all out and see what I want to do.”

Tip off tonight at Auburn Arena is at 6.