Eight Straight: Tigers Beat Bama Again

Alli Smalley scored 27 points and Keke Carrier added 20 for the Tigers as they defeated Alabama on Thursday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn jumped ahead of Alabama early on its way to an eighth straight victory over the Tide, the longest streak in the history of the Auburn-Alabama women's basketball series.

Junior guard Alli Smalley from Arab High led the Tigers with a career-high total of 27 points. Smalley was 10-18 from the field, she hit 4-9 threes and 3-4 foul shots. She added four assists and a pair of steals in 37 minutes of action.

Smalley smiled when asked if it was special to score 27 points vs. her in-state rival. "As long as we are playing well as a team, which I feel like we did tonight, it is good for me."

Smalley pointed out that the Tigers came out "hitting on all cylinders" to open the game. "From one to five, everybody was scoring," she said.

Keke Carrier, the team's only senior, scored 20 points and led all rebounders with nine.

Freshman Blanche Alverson came off the bench and scored 12 points.

Auburn evened its record at 2-2 in the SEC and is now 11-6 overall. Alabama fell to 0-4 in the league and 8-9 overall.

Auburn coach Nell Fortner's Tigers look to be over their shooting slump that plagued them in late December and early January. On Thursday night the Tigers made 50.9 percent of their field goals and 7-16 threes. The only problem was at the foul line where the Tigers connected on just 9-21 free throws.

The Tide hit 38.3 percent of its field goals and made just 3-17 field goals. The Tide made 13-16 free throws.

The Tigers won the rebounding battle 39-34 and each team turned the ball over 15 times.

The Tide made a run midway through the second half and cut the margin to 54-46 with 8:08 left, but Alverson changed the momentum by immediately hitting a three and Auburn wasn't seriously challenged after that.

"I thought Auburn got off to a great start in the basketball game and we didn't play as well as we needed to play," Alabama coach Wendell Hudson said.

Auburn's biggest lead was 21 points with 5:12 left to play in the first half. At halftime the Tigers led 43-30.

Fortner said her team could have played more consistently, but noted that Smalley and Carrier shot the ball well.

Carrier managed to make 9-11 field goals despite being constantly pushed and shoved in the game and many of the instances weren't called fouls, according to the Auburn coach, who called that "really unbelievable."

"The good thing is she doesn't get too frustrated with it," Fortner added. "Two or three years ago she would have fouled out retaliating."

Commenting on beating Alabama, Fortner said, "It's always great to get an SEC win no matter who you are playing."

The coach added, "I?thought we came out and played very focused, very hard and kind of hit a lull...I don't think we played our best basketball, but we started out very well."

Commenting on the being pushed, Carrier said, "I know they are going to hang on me I have just got to go out there and finish it, be strong and be dominant in the post. I think I have come a long way from letting it get to me."

Fortner also had praise for Alverson. "I think Blanche is going to be one heck of a player," she said. "She shoots the ball really well. She can play almost any position on the floor other than the point. She is very smart. I play her at the two, three and four."

The game marked the return to action of a pair of injured players. Sophomore guard Morgan Jennings, who had ACL surgery in July, made her first appearance of the season. She scored a point, had a steal and three turnovers in five minutes of action.

Sophomore forward Chantel Hilliard, who suffered a knee bruise on Dec. 30th, returned to action and scored two points and added a rebound in three minutes of action.

(62) Farmer, Celiscia 7-16 3-3 18; Russell, Ericka 4-16 5-7 14; Jenkins, Tierney 4-7 2-2 10; Raffington, Varisia 4-11 0-0 9; Strauthers, Courtney 2-3 3-4 7; McCoy, Carmen 1-2 0-0 2; King, LaToya 1-3 0-0 2; Williams, Tamara 0-0 0-0 0; Hancock, Katie 0-2 0-0 0; Butler, Alyson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 13-16 62.

Smalley, Alli 10-18 3-4 27; Carrier, KeKe 9-11 2-6 20; Alverson, Blanche 4-10 1-2 12; Toles, Morgan 3-9 2-2 8; Hilliard, Chantel 1-1 0-0 2; Thomas, Nicolle 1-2 0-0 2; Greenleaf, Jordan 1-4 0-3 2; Jennings, Morgan 0-1 1-2 1; West, Pascale 0-0 0-0 0; Simmons, Parrisha 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 29-57 9-21 74.

Alabama 30 32 62
Auburn 43 31 74

3-point goals--Alabama 3-17 (Raffington, Varisia 1-3; Russell, Ericka 1-10; Farmer, Celiscia 1-4), Auburn 7-16 (Smalley, Alli 4-9; Alverson, Blanche 3-6; Toles, Morgan 0-1).
Fouled out--Alabama-None, Auburn-Alverson, Blanche.
Rebounds--Alabama 34 (Raffington, Varisia 8), Auburn 39 (Carrier, KeKe 9).
Assists--Alabama 14 (Raffington, Varisia 4), Auburn 24 (Toles, Morgan 6).
Total fouls--Alabama 18, Auburn 17.
Technical fouls--Alabama-None, Auburn-None.

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