TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Auburn fought back from a big early deficit and had a two-point lead late, but Alabama came back and held on for a 51-50 win in a wild game Thursday night at Foster Auditorium.
The Tigers turned the ball over a season-high 29 times in the game, but had a chance to win in the final seconds. A pair of missed Alabama free throws led to an Auburn rebound, and the Tigers called timeout with 12.5 seconds left and trailing by one. However, the Tigers could not get a decent look, and Brandy Montgomery’s shot at the buzzer was blocked to give Alabama the win.
Sophomore Katie Frerking scored a career-high 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Auburn effort alongside Montgomery, who had 16 points. Tra’Cee Tanner added nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
“I thought we had every opportunity to win the basketball game tonight,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “Turning the ball over 29 times doesn’t help.”
Auburn fought back to take a 47-45 lead on a Frerking 3-pointer with 3:43 to play. But a Montgomery 3-pointer in the final minute would be the only points Auburn would score the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Alabama found its way to the free-throw line six times in the final three minutes, hitting three of their attempts. Alabama was 14-of-22 at the line while Auburn connected on 10-of-14 attempts.
Auburn controlled the major statistical categories in the game, save for turnovers. The Tigers shot 38 percent to Alabama’s 30.2 and had 39 turnovers to Alabama’s 33. But the Tigers’ 29 turnovers (Alabama had 20) and the 31 points Alabama scored off those turnovers were too much to overcome.
At the 1:17 mark of the first half, a fight broke out that resulted in three players - Auburn’s Hasina Muhammad and Alabama’s Breanna Hayden and Meoshonti Knight - being ejected from the game.
“You’re always disappointed in situations like that,” Williams-Flournoy said. “You never want to see either player from either side ejected from the game. This is the game that they love, the game that they practice to play, and so you never want that to happen.”
Auburn then scored the final nine points of the half to cut the Alabama lead to 30-24 at the break. Seven of those points came in the final 18 seconds - a Montgomery layup-and-one with 18.9 to play, a steal and two free throws by Khady Dieng with 10.7 left, and a steal and score by Montgomery right at the buzzer.
Karyla Middlebrook, whose 3-pointer with 1:55 to play gave Alabama the lead for good, led the Tide with 12 points. Ashley Williams had 11 and Nikki Hegstetter had 10.
Auburn returns to action Monday, Jan. 26, at home against Mississippi State. Tip is set for 8 p.m. at Auburn Arena.