Jan. 22, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. - Sophomore Varisia Raffington netted a career-best 19 points, but No. 5/6 Auburn came away with the 84-66 victory Thursday night at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. With the loss, the Crimson Tide drops to 12-8 on the season and 0-5 in SEC play, while the Tigers remain unbeaten at 19-0 overall and 4-0 in conference action.
"The team played very hard tonight," said head coach Wendell Hudson. "There is no question about the intensity we played with. We had a great first half as well. The difference in the game for us was the shots we were making in the first half we didn't make in the second half. We didn't put two halves together."
Raffington's 19 points led three Alabama players in doubles figures. Sophomore Tierney Jenkins and freshman Ericka Russell each tallied 11 points. Jenkins was also the Tide's top rebounder with eight boards. Auburn senior DeWanna Bonner led all scorers with 24 points.
The opening five minutes of the contest remained close with neither team pulling in front by more than five points. Alabama cut it to one at the 14:22 mark before Auburn put together a 7-0 run over the next 65 seconds. The Tide remained composed and never let the lead go any further than eight points. With 8:17 left in the first, Alabama constructed a run of its own outscoring the Tigers 10-4 bringing the Tide deficit to just two points. Auburn would pull ahead by five two more times, but a layup by junior Dedrea Magee with 36 seconds on the clock got Alabama within three points at halftime setting the score at 39-36.
Raffington buried a jumper 14 seconds into the second half cutting the Tiger advantage to a single point. Auburn sophomore guard Alli Smalley countered with her third three-pointer on the Tigers' next possession putting them back in front by four at 42-38. Auburn built a small buffer going in front by eight again, but the Tide battled back and cut it to three with 12:13 left in the game. From there, the Tigers surged ahead behind the efforts of a 10-0 run over the next two and a half minutes of play. Auburn's largest lead came at the 2:10 mark when senior Sherell Hobbs connected on a shot from beyond the arc putting the Tigers in front by 22. Alabama would score the final four points of the game bringing the score to 84-66.
Both teams shot well with the Tide connecting on 45.6 percent of its shots and Auburn hitting 61.8 percent of its attempts. The big difference was in the second half where the Tigers were 73.9 percent from the floor hitting 17 of 23 shots. Both teams finished with 28 rebounds.
Next up, Alabama hosts Georgia in Coleman Coliseum on Sunday, Jan. 25. Tipoff is slated for 2:00 p.m. (CST).