Fired-Up Tigers Maul Tide For Fortner

The Auburn women's basketball team dominated archrival Alabama winning by 41 points on Thursday night.

Auburn, Ala.--An emotional Auburn team jumped on Alabama early, kept the pressure on throughout the game and coasted to an 81-40 SEC women's basketball victory over the Tide, the second largest margin of victory for the Tigers over their archrival.

Auburn's beat-down of Bama on Thursday night at the Auburn Arena was surpassed only by an 89-44 game on Feb. 14, 1989. It also improved Fortner's record to 13-3 in games vs. Alabama.

"That is a nice way to end my coaching here at Auburn playing Alabama," said Nell Fortner, who on Tuesday announced she was stepping down as head coach of the Tigers.

"When you are an Auburn coach, playing Alabama is a big game," Fortner said. "That one felt good. I thought we just played for 40 minutes and it was good to do that."

Auburn's halfcourt trap defense rattled the Tide early in the game forcing 19 first half turnovers as Auburn jumped to a 47-23 lead at intermission. Despite substituting heavily in the second half, the Tigers kept the heat on the visitors forcing 29 Tide turnovers for the game.

"I thought (the trap defense) was really effective in the first half," Fortner said. "I thought it really got the ball game tilted our way."

Sophomore forward Tyrese Tanner from Hoover High played what the Auburn coach called her best game of the season, scoring a career-high 23 points. The former Hoover High star hit 8-13 field goals.

Fortner noted that Tanner's previous best game was against Alabama when she scored 20 in Tuscaloosa in Auburn's first win over the Tide this season.

The coach also said that junior point guard Najat Ouardad had her best game, too, going 4-4 from the field, 2-2 on threes and dishing out five assists to go with 10 points.

Auburn hit 10-18 three-pointers in the contest led by junior forward Blanche Alverson and sophomore guard Camille Glymph. Each scored 15 points. Alverson was 5-8 on treys and Glymph his 3-8. Alverson's five treys were a career-best as Auburn scored a season-high 81 points.

"The three for the women is like a dunk in the men's game," Fortner said. "When they are hitting those threes it gets everybody excited."

Alverson said there was no doubt that the Tigers were highly motivated for the game. "We just wanted to go out and win this one for Coach Fortner because she is so passionate about Auburn," Alverson said. "We wanted to win it for her and I would say we did a pretty good job."

Tanner set the early tone with her aggressive play on offense. "They are our big rivals so there was a lot of trash-talking from the beginning coming into this game to show if we were really tough or not so we came out ready to play and focused," she noted.

Alverson said that Tanner always "plays her butt off" vs. Alabama. "We needed that spark today," the junior forward pointed out.

Auburn led by 24 points at halftime as the Tigers shot 55.9 percent hitting 19-34 field goals and 5-9 threes.

Tanner wasn't a one-person wrecking crew to start the game, but she wasn't far from it, scoring 18 points in the first 20 minutes.

The Tigers scored the first seven points of the second half to build the lead to 31 points eliminating any chance of a Tide comeback.

Auburn improved its record to 12-16 overall and 4-11 in the SEC. Alabama fell to 12-17 overall and 2-13 in the SEC.

For the game Auburn made 30-61 field goals (49.2 percent) to 14-44 (31.8 percent) for Alabama. Auburn was 10-18 on threes, Alabama 2-8. Auburn hit 11-21 free throws while Alabama made 10-12.

Alabama out-rebounded Auburn 34-32, but committed 29 turnovers, 18 more than the home team.

The Tigers return to action at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday vs. visiting Ole Miss in what will be Fortner's final game as Auburn's head coach.

Merritt, Jessica 6-10 2-2 15; Daniels, Aneesah 3-7 0-0 6; Crosby, Kyra 1-7 3-4 5; Robinson, Jasmine 1-6 2-2 4; Farmer, Celiscia 2-7 0-0 4; Myers, Shafontaye 1-4 0-0 3; Lee, Khristin 0-3 3-4 3; Waters, Erika 0-0 0-0 0; Bush, Kristin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-44 10-12 40.

Tanner, Tyrese 8-13 7-10 23; Glymph, Camille 5-13 2-4 15; Alverson, Blanche 5-8 0-0 15; Ouardad, Najat 4-4 0-0 10; Muhammad, Hasina 4-10 0-0 8; Hilliard, Chantel 1-2 2-3 4; Davis, Peyton 1-2 0-3 2; Williams, Jassany 1-4 0-0 2; Jennings, Morgan 1-4 0-0 2; West, Pascale 0-1 0-0 0; Simmons, Parrisha 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 30-61 11-21 81.

Alabama 23 17 40
Auburn 47 34 81

3-point goals--Alabama 2-8 (Merritt, Jessica 1-2; Myers, Shafontaye 1-3; Robinson, Jasmine 0-1; Farmer, Celiscia 0-1; Lee, Khristin 0-1), Auburn 10-18 (Alverson, Blanche 5-8; Glymph, Camille 3-8; Ouardad, Najat 2-2).
Fouled out--Alabama-Crosby, Kyra, Auburn-None.
Rebounds--Alabama 34 (Daniels, Aneesah 9), Auburn 32 (Williams, Jassany 5).
Assists--Alabama 6 (Crosby, Kyra 3; Lee, Khristin 3), Auburn 25 (Ouardad, Najat 5).
Total fouls--Alabama 22, Auburn 14.
Technical fouls--Alabama-Crosby, Kyra, Auburn-None.

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