TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Auburn sophomore Tyrese Tanner scored a career-high 20 points, leading the Tigers to a 65-55 win over in-state rival Alabama (10-6, 0-2 SEC) in Tuscaloosa. The win was the first league victory for the Tigers (9-6, 1-1 SEC) this season.
The career-high came in the same city as her freshman-high of 15 points a year ago. She led the Tigers to 66-55 Southeastern Conference-opening win over the Crimson Tide on Jan. 2, 2011.
"We battled so hard tonight, it was a hard-fought game," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "We just could not find a rhythm for a while offensively, but little Najat came in there and did some really nice things for us. Then Hasina Muhammad and Tyrese Tanner came in and had a really nice second half for us."
Ouardad, Auburn's backup point guard out of France, came off the bench and finished the game with eight points, two assists and four steals. She led Auburn's defensive effort that accounted for six steals, eight blocks and 18 Alabama turnovers. The Tigers turned the Crimson Tide turnovers into 20 points on the other end.
Tanner was one of three Tigers that finished the game in double figures. Freshman Hasina Muhammad tallied 12 points with five rebounds while Blanche Alverson scored 11, including a timely 3-pointer early in the second half that gave Auburn its first lead of the game.
"Tyrese did a good job, got some great minutes out of her tonight. She really came in tough and Hasina also," said Fortner. "I just thought we had to be more aggressive in the game and they brought that for us."
Alabama took off out of the gate in the first half, taking a quick 11-3 lead with seven points from Shafontaye Myers. The Crimson Tide would lead by as many as nine, 20-11, with 7:49 left in the half, but Auburn went on an 11-3 run, thanks to five points from Tanner, to cut it to one, 23-22, with 2:28 to go.
Tanner scored another bucket to tie the game at 24-24, but Alabama's Erin Hogue got a rebound and put-back on the Tide's last possession to give them a 26-24 halftime lead.
Alverson scored five of the first seven points to open the second half, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game. Alabama did not back down, re-taking the lead and going up by three with 16:51 left in the game. The game would be tied two more times before Auburn went on a 9-2 lead to take a 46-39 lead with 9:53 left.
The Tigers never trailed from that point on, building their lead to as many as 12 points with 4:23 left to play. Auburn kept it in double digits the rest of the way for the 65-55 win.
Alverson and Chantel Hilliard led the Tigers in rebounding with seven each. Hilliard also added six points with a blocked shot and a steal. Jassany Williams, Tanner and Morgan Jennings led the team with two blocked shots each.
Myers led Alabama with 13 points while Ericka Russell downed four 3-pointers for 12 points. Meghan Perkins and Kyra Crosby pulled down seven rebounds each.
Auburn shot over 40 percent for just the second time in the last seven games, hitting 42.1 percent of their shots. The Tiger defense held Alabama to 31.8 percent from the field.
The Tigers will return to the court at 1 p.m. CT, Sunday as Auburn hosts No. 16/15 Georgia (12-3, 1-1 SEC) at Auburn Arena.
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