TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Junior Katie Frerking scored 22 points, and the Auburn women's basketball team held off a fourth-quarter Alabama charge to earn a 59-55 win Sunday afternoon at Foster Auditorium.
The Tigers (16-8, 6-5 SEC) built a 15-point lead in the third quarter but saw Alabama (14-10, 3-8) put together a big run to open the fourth, cutting the Tigers' lead to as few as three points in the closing minutes. But Auburn was able to make just enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the rally, picking up the season sweep of the Crimson Tide and moving above .500 in SEC play.
"It was a hard-fought one today," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "We really had to get out there and fight for that victory. I told them at the half that they were playing not to lose. They were not playing like they were supposed to win. We had to have the mindset that we were going to come out and attack them right away, and that's what we did in the third quarter."
Frerking's 22 points led all scorers, and she added four steals, three assists, three rebound and two blocks. She shot 80 percent from the floor (8-of-10 and was 3-of-5 from 3-point range. In two games against Alabama this season, Frerking has scored 43 points - 22 today, 21 in the home game on Jan. 14 - leading the Tigers both times. Brandy Montgomery added 11 points and a team-best five rebounds, and Tra'Cee Tanner scored nine points.
"Katie needs to shoot the ball," Williams-Flournoy said. "She's such a good shooter. We need her to be an offensive threat for us all the time. She's such a team player and she wants to be so involved, but sometimes she has to be selfish for the team by being an offensive threat."
The Tigers pulled away early in the third quarter as Frerking outscored the Crimson Tide by herself in the frame. Frerking put together a 14-point quarter, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers along the way, as Auburn outscored Alabama 24-13 in the period to take a 47-34 lead into the fourth. The Tigers shot 64.3 percent (9-of-14) in the third quarter.
"In the third quarter, we really looked to attack," Williams-Flournoy said. "I thought Katie Frerking did one of her best jobs of being aggressive and attacking. And we turned them over in the third quarter. That was huge."
But Alabama went on a 11-1 run over the first six minutes of the fourth, cutting the Tigers' lead to just three points with 4:22 to play. A Montgomery jumper ended the drought to push the Auburn lead back to five, and Frerking scored to give the Tigers a 52-45 lead with 2:29 to play. Free throw woes - Auburn was 11-of-24 in the game and 6-of-14 in the fourth quarter - kept the Tigers from putting the game away early as Alabama kept hanging around. But Erica Sanders, Frerking and Montgomery each hit 1-of-2 attempts in the final minute and kept the Tide from finding the basket over the last 90 seconds.
Auburn shot 47.8 percent from the field for the game, the Tigers' second-best shooting day in conference play this season, and held Alabama to a 33.3-percent day. The Tigers were 50% from 3-point range, hitting 4-of-8 attempts (three from Frerking) while Alabama was 3-of-16 from beyond the arc. The Tide had two more rebounds than the Tigers, 35-33.
Auburn led 23-21 after a sloppy first half. Trailing 14-11 after one quarter, the Tigers held Alabama to just seven points in the second, and a layup by Tanner with 2.5 seconds remaining snapped a 21-21 tie to give the Tigers the halftime lead.
Meoshonti Knight led Alabama with 16 points, and Shaquera Wade added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Auburn plays its next-to-last road game of the season Thursday night when the Tigers travel to Ole Miss. Tip is set for 6 p.m. in Oxford, Miss.