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Auburn women grind out 66-56 win at Alabama

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Daisa Alexander scored 22 points and had four steals as Auburn used a strong defensive effort to earn a 66-56 win over Alabama Thursday night at Coleman Coliseum.

The Tigers (14-2, 2-1 SEC) scored 42 of their 66 points in the paint, hitting 25-of-38 two-point shots (65.7%). Auburn also forced Alabama (9-6, 1-2) into 25 turnovers that turned into 28 Auburn points.

“We’ll take that ugly win,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We had to scrap and fight and grind to get it. We told the team that this would be a game of runs. In a game like this, the X’s and O’s go out the door. It comes down to who wants it more and who’s going to fight the hardest for it. We had to go through their little storm then come back and get ready to play.”

Alexander scored 22 points for the second straight game, matching her season-high and coming within three points of a career high. Unique Thompson added 12 points along with a game-high nine rebounds, and Crystal Primm scored 10. Nine of the 10 Auburn players that saw playing time had at least one steal; Alexander’s four swipes led the way while freshman Erin Howard had three steals along with a team-best five assists.

Janiah McKay added eight points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, and senior Erica Sanders hit all three shots she took for a six-point night along with a pair of steals.

For the game, Auburn shot 55.8 percent from the floor, their second-best shooting night of the season. The Tigers got to the rim repeatedly in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of their 17 fourth-quarter points in the paint as the high-low play worked well for Auburn.

“We found some soft spots down in the short corner, then we went to the high post and found it there,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Then (in the fourth quarter) because we were hitting in the short corner, they started running the defensive player with them. So when Unique flashed, she was wide open on that side by herself, and Erin did a very good job getting it to her.”

The Tigers led 17-13 at the end of the first period. But Auburn turned up its defensive pressure in the second, going on an 11-3 run over the first four minutes to extend their advantage to as much as 15 points before Alabama cut it to a 13-point game at halftime, 36-23.

Auburn dealt with turnover troubles and a scoring drought in the third quarter, turning the ball over seven times in the period as Alabama cut the deficit to as few as five points. But Auburn’s defensive pressure came alive in the fourth quarter as a pair of fast-break baskets off steals – one from Alexander and one from Primm – pushed Auburn’s lead back to double-digits at 57-46 with 5:07 to play. The rest of the way, Auburn had just one possession without a basket as Alabama was unable to cut any further into the lead.

Jasmine Walker led Alabama with 18 points; Shaquera Wade had 13 and Ariyah Copeland added 12.

Thursday’s win was Auburn’s ninth over Alabama in their last 12 meetings and improved Auburn’s record to 6-1 in true road games this season.

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