“I’m really, really proud for our kids to find a way to win,” said Alabama Coach Kristy Curry. “It was ugly down the stretch, but we were fortunate to get enough stops and a quick one there at the end.”
Stifling defense and aggressive play helped Alabama claim the victory, especially late in the game as UA forced four Auburn turnovers in the final 2:41. Alabama had three players in double-figures, led by redshirt freshman Karyla Middlebrook with 12 points and a team-high five assists. Sophomore Ashley Williams added 11, while junior Nikki Hegstetter led the Tide in rebounds with six and added 10 points. The Tide also received big minutes from Carter, who contributed a season-high eight points in the win.
The two teams traded baskets in the opening minutes, but 13 unanswered points over a near six minute span game Alabama a 17-6 advantage with 9:30 to play in the half. The Tide led by as many as 15 in the period, however the Tigers would cut that to six at halftime after scoring nine unanswered.
Alabama remained on top throughout the second half until a three from junior Katie Frerking gave the Tigers the 47-45 edge with 3:48 to go. Middlebrook then came up big for the Tide with six straight points giving Alabama a 51-47 lead.
“Karyla’s toughness and her character to respond with the basketball in her hands, of making better decisions down the stretch, I think was key,” added Curry. “It was also key for her to knock the three down, and get to the foul line to convert. She certainly grew up tonight before our eyes and that’s good to see.”
Tiger sophomore Brandy Montgomery hit one final shot for Auburn with 48 seconds to go before Carter’s rejection at the last second.
Alabama will continue play at home on Sunday when UA hosts the Vanderbilt Commodores. Tipoff between the conference foes is set for Noon CST in Foster Auditorium.