Moody reaches milestone as Bama sweeps Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. --- A flurry of Auburn three-pointers in the closing minutes was not enough as the Alabama women's basketball team earned its fifth straight victory over its rivals on Sunday posting a 60-57 victory on the Plains. <br><br>The win was the 268th in UA head coach Rick Moody's 13-year tenure making him the winningest basketball coach (men's or women's) in school history.

It also marked the second straight year that Bama has swept its cross-state rival. With the victory, Alabama improved to 15-8 overall and 5-5 in SEC play. The loss was the sixth in a row for Auburn dropping them to 14-10, 2-9 SEC. It was also the Tigers third consecutive home loss of the year.

"I'm honored to get the record but the more important thing is that we have gotten to 5-5 in the SEC," said Moody. "That keeps us in the hunt for our goals for this year. I'm extremely proud of how this team continues to battle with its back against the wall. We just need to stay focused and I believe that we can continue to play well."

After sluggish opening minutes by the Crimson Tide the game settled into the back and forth battle that one would expect from an in-state rivalry game. Auburn took an early 9-2 advantage as Bama connected on just one of its first nine shots of the game.

Alabama continued to play solid defense and eventually the shots began to fall as the Tide used a 13-2 spurt of their own to earn their first lead of the half, 15-13, on Monique Bivins second trey of the period with 9:05 remaining.

The Crimson Tide maintained a slight lead for the remainder of the half taking a 26-25 margin into the lockeroom at the break. Both squads struggled from the floor in the first half with neither team topping 40 percent shooting.

UA rolled out to a 10-point lead just five minutes into the second half as the Tigers could only muster three points during the stretch. The Tide then went scoreless for nearly a four-minute stretch as Auburn came roaring back to knot the score at 40 with 10:28 left in the game.

The Tigers took a one-point lead on Natasha Brackett's three-pointer, 43-41, but Bama answered right back with a three from Katie Sipe. Alabama extended its lead back to double-digits with a 10-1 that included back-to-back treys from Sipe and Beth Vice.

Auburn trimmed the UA advantage to just five points with 2:50 remaining when Le'Coe Willingham completed a three-point play. LaNisha Cartwell hit a pair of free throws to push Bama up by seven but a three-point shot by Brackett closed the gap to four. After a turnover by the Tide, Carol Smith drained a trey to pull the Tigers to within one with 35 seconds left.

Following a missed shot, Cartwell hauled in the rebound and was fouled with just eight ticks left in the game. The senior from Montevallo, calmly stepped up and dropped in both free throws to put the Tide back up by three. A desperation shot by Auburn fell short allowing the Tide to hold on for the important SEC victory.

Alabama got a well-balanced scoring performance in the game as just two players reached double-figures but 10 of 11 players scored in the contest. Bivins the Tide with 11 points including her clutch shooting in the opening half. Shondra Johnson finished with 10 points. UA hit 10 treys on the day with five different players making a three-pointer led by Bivins three. Johnson paced the squad with seven rebounds and seven assists.

Willingham scored 15 points to lead the Tigers followed by 13 from Nicole Louden. Willingham also pulled down seven rebounds to lead AU to a slight, 38-35, edge on the boards.

The Crimson Tide remain on the road for their next big contest as they visit No. 9 South Carolina on Thursday night in Columbia, S.C.

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