Updated at: 02/07/2013 9:08 PM
By CHARLES ODUM
(AP) ATLANTA - Auburn’s seven-game losing streak includes three losses to top 15 teams in the Southeastern Conference by no more than 11 points.
With better free-throw shooting, the losing streak might have ended at six.
Auburn trailed by 15 points in the first half to twice pull even with No. 9 Georgia but couldn’t overcome its poor free-throw shooting in its 61-58 loss to the Lady Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Auburn lost 59-51 at No. 15 South Carolina on Sunday and also had a 75-66 loss to then-No. 9 Tennessee on Jan. 17.
"We have to build off of them and we have to build our confidence off of them," said Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy of the close losses. "We’ve played really, really tough teams. The league is tough."
Auburn (13-10, 2-8 SEC) made only 3 of 15 free throws. It missed each of its five attempts in the final 3 minutes.
Auburn began the night 12th in the SEC with its 63.7 percent shooting on free throws.
Williams-Flournoy said missed free throws were not the Tigers’ only problem. Auburn’s 22 turnovers led to 21 points for Georgia. The Lady Bulldogs had a 20-13 advantage in offensive rebounds and a 21-6 edge in second-chance points.
"I thought we had a lot of opportunities to win, but we made some crucial mistakes," Williams-Flournoy said. "Costly turnovers, offensive rebounds by Georgia that didn’t give us our chances to win the game."
Hasina Muhammad led Auburn with 20 points, including a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining to cut Georgia’s lead to 60-58. Blance Alverson, who had three 3-pointers, had 16 points. Peyton Davis had 10.
Georgia took its biggest lead at 30-15 and led 34-22 at halftime.
The Tigers fell to 1-5 against ranked teams this season. They beat No. 23 Arkansas on Jan. 3.
Williams-Flournoy, in her first season at Auburn after eight years at Georgetown, was a Georgia assistant from 1996-2002.
Jasmine Hassell led Georgia (20-3, 8-2) with 15 points. Georgia made only 2 of 16 shots from the field in the first 10 minutes of the second half and shot 29.7 percent overall.
The Lady Bulldogs, coming off a win at No. 8 Kentucky on Sunday, led 34-22 at halftime.
Georgia’s misses from the field were offset by the Tigers’ horrendous shooting from the free-throw line.
"I’m not sure how well Auburn typically shoots free throws, but 3 of 15, I can definitely say we were able to escape the bullet a little bit," said Georgia’s Jasmine James, who had 13 points and five steals.
Georgia reached 20 wins for the 28th time in Andy Landers’ 34 seasons as coach.
"We shot 29 percent from the field and won and that’s pretty far-fetched," Landers said.
Asked if the scare was needed after the win at Kentucky, Landers said "We missed 15 to 18 layups. Wow. Do we need a wake-up call for that? I don’t know."
Georgia made 19 of 22 free throws.
Auburn pulled even for the last time at 53-53 but never led.
Shacobia Barbee had 14 points for Georgia, which has a four-game winning streak.
The Tigers opened the second half with a 9-2 run. Tra’cee Tanner’s basket following her offensive rebound cut Georgia’s lead to 36-31, the first of four times Auburn would cut the deficit to five points.
Auburn finally pulled even at 51-51 with 4:35 remaining when Alverson made the first of two free throws. The last tie came at 53-all.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)