AU women’s basketball downs Tide in SEC opener

Greenleaf's 19 points against Alabama led all scorers.

TUSCALOOSA — The Tigers held Alabama without a field goal for more than 10 minutes in the second half, building up an 18-point lead that would help the Auburn women’s basketball team (8-6, 1-0 SEC) hold on for a 66-55 win against the Crimson Tide (11-3, 0-1 SEC) in the teams’ SEC opener.

Senior Jordan Greenleaf scored a career-high 19 points along with nine rebounds in the win. Freshman Tyrese Tanner tied her career high with 15 points, scoring Auburn’s final four points at the free throw line to preserve the win.

“I’m absolutely pleased with the win,” Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said. “Just to go on the road and pick up a win, especially in this tough conference, against an Alabama team that has had a really nice start to their season. I didn’t quite know what to expect today with such a good rivalry. I am just pleased with how we played and how we hung on there in the second half and got the win.”

With the win, Auburn has won seven of its last nine games after starting the season 1-4. The victory is also the fourth in a row for the Tigers and the 13th in the last 15 meetings with Alabama.

“The start of our season was tough, we had a tough schedule and maybe over-scheduled a little bit for a young team,” said Fortner. “The one thing we have kept talking about is we always have to learn the lesson from the loss and get better from it. Hopefully that is what is happening to us right now, we have learned a lot from the losses, we figured out who we are and what we need to do to be the best team we can be.”

The teams traded the lead in the first half with neither team leading by more than 4 points. After Alabama’s Tierney Jenkins hit a free throw to tie the game with 10 seconds left in the first half, but Auburn found senior Alli Smalley open for a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded for a 28-25 halftime lead.

“Anytime you can go into halftime with that kind of momentum, it is huge,” Fortner said.

“Momentum is an important piece of a basketball game and that was important for us.”

The Tigers were able to build their lead to seven early in the second half when a Jenkins jumper cut it to five with 17:04 remaining. That would be the last field goal for the Crimson Tide for more than 10 minutes as Auburn rallied off an 18-7 run for a 53-39 lead with 6:32 remaining. The Tigers led by as many as 18 points during the run.

Alabama would come back, cutting the Auburn lead to as few as six points with 1:20 left in the game. But, a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left as the shot clock was running out from Toles and four free throws from Tanner sealed the 66-55 Tiger win.

Along with Greenleaf (19) and Tanner (15), Smalley made it an Auburn trio in double figures with 12 points. Blanche Alverson scored six while tying Greenleaf for the team lead in rebounds with nine each. Toles dished out five assists with her nine points.

Jenkins led Alabama with a career-high 31 points along with her game-high 15 rebounds. Shafontaye Myers added nine points, all 3-pointers, off the bench while freshman Kaneishe Horn added eight points and 11 rebounds.

For the game, Auburn shot 45.8 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from 3-point range. The Tigers also hit 9-of-14 free throws for 64.3 percent.

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