Needing a spark, Auburn got it from Kyla Howard.
Howard, a 5-foot-3 junior transfer from Kent-Meridian, scored nine of her game-high 16 points in the third quarter to help the Trojans build an eight-point lead before pulling away to beat the North East Bushrangers, a touring team from Australia, 51-34, in the Trojans’ season opener Tuesday night at Bob Jones Gymnasium.
Senior wing Alerjah Hill had 11 points, five of which came in the fourth quarter, for the Trojans.
“We were gritty when we needed to be,” said Auburn coach Jon Price. “It wasn’t pretty. Those kids were pretty good athletes. … We faced adversity and came back from it. …. It’s a win. We’ll take it.”
Auburn, leading 38-30 after three quarters, finished the game on a 13-4 run, with Hill and seniors Emily Strojan and Jacklynn Smith scoring down low and Jaya Harshman sinking a 3-point dagger.
The Trojans open North Puget Sound League Olympic play at home Thursday against Todd Beamer. Tipoff is 7 p.m.