TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A 26-point night from Janiah McKay and 20 points from Katie Frerking – including 12 in the fourth quarter – led Auburn to a comeback victory over Alabama, 66-55, Sunday night at Coleman Coliseum.
The Tigers (15-8, 5-3 SEC) trailed by as many as eight points in the third quarter before opening the fourth on a 16-4 run. A pair of Frerking 3-pointers to open the final period gave Auburn its first lead since early in the second quarter, and the Tigers never trailed again.
“What an unbelievable fourth quarter,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “It was a tough game. I thought both teams battled back and forth, back and forth. Once we got the fourth quarter, I said, ‘Let’s just calm down. Let’s play our defense, and let’s go to where we can get our shots.’ And they did.”
Frerking scored 12 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter as Auburn outscored Alabama (15-7, 3-6 SEC) 25-11 in the final 10 minutes. In Auburn’s last three games with Alabama – all victories – Frerking has scored at least 20 points. Frerking also had four steals McKay, meanwhile, was 10-of-19 from the field and 6-of-7 at the free-throw line for her second 20+ point game in SEC play.
Erica Sanders and Khady Dieng made their first starts of the season in place of Jazmine and Jessica Jones, who had not practiced the last two days while suffering from flu-like symptoms. Sanders tallied six points in her first career start. Brandy Montgomery was held scoreless on the day but was Auburn’s leading rebounder with six.
Despite the illness, the Jones twins both played significant minutes – Jessica played 24 minutes with six points and three rebounds, and Jazmine had three rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes.
“The twins absolutely sucked it up to play today,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I’m so proud of them. They came in and just kept fighting. I didn’t really want to use them that much. I thought Khady Dieng did a great job stepping in wherever we needed her.”
Auburn found itself down 37-29 midway through the third quarter after missing its first seven shots of the period. But the Tigers made five of their last seven in the third to cut the deficit to three points at 44-41 entering the fourth.
Frerking knocked down a 3-pointer on Auburn’s first possession of the fourth to tie the game, then hit another less than a minute later to give Auburn a 47-44 lead it would never relinquish. It was a 16-2 run over the first five-plus minutes of the final period to push Auburn to a double-digit lead.
Auburn forced Alabama into 22 turnovers, converting those into 28 points. The Tigers had just 10 turnovers in the game and only three in the second half. Alabama outrebounded Auburn 33-28, but Auburn outscored the Tide in the paint, 28-26.
Alabama held a slim 28-27 lead at halftime on the strength of three first-half 3-pointers and a 7-for-8 half at the free-throw line. Auburn shot better than Alabama in the first 20 minutes, but Alabama had 18 rebounds to Auburn’s 11.
A busload of Auburn fans made their way to Tuscaloosa Sunday, and a group of about 100 orange-and-blue-clad fans sat behind the Auburn bench at Coleman Coliseum.
“They were so loud, it was unbelievable,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I’m so glad they came. It really felt like a home game with our fans right there behind us. The more we got hyped in the fourth quarter, the more they got hyped.”
Quanetria Bolton led Alabama with 17 points and Hannah Cook scored 16 to lead Alabama.
The Tigers return to Auburn Arena Thursday night to host No. 4/5 Mississippi State at 8 p.m.