Feb. 20, 2011
Final Stats | Photo Gallery
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The women's basketball team (15-12, 4-10 SEC) won its third consecutive game, including its second straight at newly renovated Foster Auditorium, with a 61-52 victory over the Mississippi Rebels (10-16, 3-11 SEC) on Sunday.
Junior guard Ericka Russell scored a season, and game-high, 21 points, while senior forward Tierney Jenkins scored 10 points to go along with 10 rebounds, marking the 41st double-double of her career. Freshman forward Kaneisha Horn added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Tide, that now stands at 2-0 in Foster.
"We approached this game, and these last seven games, trying to make a statement because you never know what might happen," Alabama head coach Wendell Hudson said. "You go into the (SEC) Tournament on a high, and you go in and compete, you have a chance to play in the SEC Championship. The big thing for this team is that they were so excited to come home and play again in Foster Auditorium after the first game against Florida. In the first half we jumped out, and we were excited. We played hard, and we played together."
After holding a 36-20 halftime lead, the Crimson Tide increased the advantage to 44-26 over the first 4:49 of the second half before Mississippi countered with a 12-0 run to make the score 44-38 at the 10:51 mark.
The Rebels pulled within one point at 46-45 over the course of the next four minutes before a Russell three-pointer led to a quick 7-2 run to allow Alabama to pull back in front by six at 53-47 at the 5:52 juncture. From there, the Tide maintained a working margin of no fewer than six points for the remainder of the game, pushing the lead to as much as 10 at one point, in closing out the game.
Alabama scored 25 points off 22 Mississippi turnovers and held a 16-0 advantage in points off the fastbreak. The Rebels shot just 34 percent from the field (18-of-53) for the game, including just 25.8 percent (8-of-31) in the first half. In addition to their combined 31 points, Russell and Jenkins contributed seven of Tide's 13 assists, while Russell also added a career-high four steals.
"I have got to give our team credit," Hudson said. "A bunch of them sucked it up and played hard. Late in the second half, Ericka Russell hit a big three and (Kaneisha) Horn hit some big foul shots, so we stuck it out. You're not going to always have your best game, but we hung in there and pulled out the win."
Alabama held the Rebels to just 1-of-10 shooting over the first 6:09 in building a 12-3 lead. Senior guard Varisia Raffington led off the game with a three-pointer, while Horn added five points as the Tide built the early advantage.
Following the run, Alabama extended the lead even further, outscoring Mississippi 13-4 over the next 6:48 to take a 25-7 lead. The Tide defense remained strong during the stretch, allowing the Rebels to connect on just 2-of-10 shots, while forcing six turnovers.
Alabama pushed the advantage to as much as 23, taking a 32-9 lead at the 4:21 juncture before Mississippi cut into the margin right before the half. The Rebels used an 11-2 run to pull within 14, before a Raffington basket right before the halftime buzzer gave the Tide a 36-20 halftime advantage.
Russell led Alabama with 10 first-half points, while Horn added nine.
Junior forward Nikki Byrd led Mississippi with 16 points and 18 rebounds.
For its next game, Alabama will host Mississippi State on Thursday, Feb. 24, at Foster Auditorium. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT.