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Payne Carries Tigers To 65-56 Win Over Alabama

Jan. 26, 2006

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AUBURN - Senior Marita Payne tallied her third double-double of the season leading the Auburn women's basketball team (11-8, 2-4 SEC) to a 65-56 win over in-state rival Alabama (8-11, 2-4 SEC) Thursday night.

Payne scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the winning effort while also blocking nine shots, just missing her second career triple-double. Freshman DeWanna Bonner was the Tigers' leading scorer with 21 points, going 11-of-14 from the free-throw line.

"Marita and DeWanna both did a really nice job tonight," head coach Nell Fortner said. "Marita did a great job knocking down shots while DeWanna was stepping up and making her free throws."

Much like the two teams' contest in Tuscaloosa, Auburn fell behind early. The Tigers trailed 6-0 less than two minutes into the game, before scoring ten unanswered points.

The Tigers utilized a stifling defense the remainder of the half. The Tide was held to just two points for the final six minutes of the half. During the stretch, Auburn went on a 16-2 run and closed the period with a 35-21 lead. The Tigers forced 16 Alabama turnovers in the first frame and converted them into 22 points on offense.

The second half saw the same approach from the Tigers as they forced nine more turnovers and did not allow Alabama within eight points. The Tigers forced a total of 25 turnovers for the game and tallied 30 points off of Alabama mistakes.

Alabama's Lauren Hill was the games leading scorer with 22 points. Alabama shot 43.1 percent from the field compared to 41.5 percent for Auburn.

Auburn also used its size as an advantage, scoring 28 points in the paint against just 12 for Alabama.

Payne's double-double was the 11th of her career. Her effort tied a season-high from the Ole Miss game Jan. 15th and fell just one block shy of a triple-double. She now has 79 blocks for the season and 349 for her career. Payne has blocked a shot in 50 consecutive games.



Payne's eight rebounds also places her in 17th place in Auburn history with 577 career rebounds, surpassing Conswella Sparrow, who tallied 572 from 1997-2000.

The Tigers continue SEC play when they host Mississippi State Sunday at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The game is set to tip off at 2 p.m. CT.

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