Auburn was much better defensively against Alabama than it was in its last outing vs. LSU. The Tigers forced early Tide mistakes and turned them into buckets. The Tigers caused 19 Alabama turnovers in the first half and 26 overall. Auburn finished with 15 steals and seven blocks as it exerted its will on the Crimson Tide, scoring 27 points off of Alabama turnovers.
"The best part of our game was our defense," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner, who improved her record to 6-1 vs. AU's archrival.
Bonner, Auburn's leading scorer for the season, got back into a groove after only scoring five points in Auburn's last game versus LSU. The junior scored 27 points vs. the Tide, including 15 of AU's first 17 points to open the game. She added seven rebounds and six steals.
"She was trying to redeem herself from the last two games," Fortner said. "That wasn't typical for her, but she came out and set a tone today."
DeWanna Bonners shoots vs. the Tide on Sunday at Coleman Coliseum.
Sherell Hobbs finished with 17 points and six rebounds for the Tigers. Jordan Greenleaf added four points, but it was her career-high six blocks, as well as seven rebounds, that stand out as she was a defensive giant Sunday afternoon.
"Jordan is a warrior player," Fortner said. "She works extremely hard when she is out there, and she did that again today."
Auburn out-rebounded the Tide 35-30 and picked up 12 second-chance points. Auburn took 12 more shots than the Tide, but shot a dismal 38.2 percent from the field to keep the margin of victory from being larger than it was.
Auburn extended its lead early in the second half, going on a 16-2 run while the Tide had no answer for Bonner and company. Freshman guard Alli Smalley scored 10 points, all coming in the second half. She made her first two threes and was a big part of the victory as her jumper with 1:40 left effectively put the game away, giving Auburn a 16-point lead.
The Tigers did not start the game impressively on offense. Auburn shot only 36.4 percent in the opening period while the Tide hit 55.6 percent from the field. The Tigers' defense, however, allowed Auburn to stay on top in the first half.
Alabama was able to keep the game close in the first stanza, and actually took a 16-15 lead with 7:57 left before halftime, until Auburn finally pulled away with a 8-0 run. Alabama responded and cut Auburn's lead to three before Auburn was able to take a 27-24 lead into the half.
The Tigers hadn't lost a game all season when they led at halftime and the trend continued vs. Bama as Auburn led at intermission for the 13th time this season.
"Hobbs had a tough first half, but she was physical and adjusted and had a good game," Fortner said after the SEC win. "We defended their triple post well. They didn't that many good looks, and when they did it was because of a defensive breakdown."
The Tide was led by Camilla Blands, who came off the bench to score 13 points.
Auburn hit 17-19 free throws in the game, including 15-17 in the second half. Bama hit 10-16 free throws.
Auburn was 3-7 on threes and the Tide hit 4-13.
Auburn returns home to play Mississippi State at 2 p.m. next Sunday.