Friday, November 22, 2002
» Box Score
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Alabama women's basketball team battled opening night jitters but in the end proved too strong for the Samford Bulldogs earning a 68-46 victory at Seibert Hall on Friday night.
The win marked the sixth consecutive season debut victory for the Crimson Tide and the third year in a row that Bama has defeated Samford in the opening game. Alabama is now 23-6 all-time in season opening contests.
"I don't want to complain about getting a win," said 14th-year UA head coach Rick Moody, "Because we are always glad when we get one. However, we have got to play with more poise and have better execution. It was obvious tonight that Samford played very well, especially on the defensive end. Coach Morris had his team much more mentally prepared to play than I did."
Both teams struggled offensively in the opening half as Alabama connected on just 35 percent from the field while Samford hit at just a 17.4 percent pace. The difference in the first was the Tide's work on the glass as Bama out-rebounded the Bulldogs 23-15 including seven offensive boards. UA used an 11-2 run over the final five minutes of the opening period to take a 29-16 lead at the half.
The Crimson Tide scored the first seven points of the second half to push their lead to 20 points at 36-16. Samford ran off six straight points midway through the period to trim the Bama margin before Jamilah Johns scored six points of her own to again widen the UA lead. The Bulldogs could get no closer in the waning moments as Alabama held on for the 22-point victory.
Johns, the tallest player on the floor at 6-4, dominated play in the paint posting a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Johns and fellow post player Natasha Gamble with nine points and nine rebounds helped lead the Tide to a 30-6 margin for points in the paint.
Alabama finished the game with a 41-31 edge in rebounding and shot a solid 43.6 percent from the floor for the game including a 51.9 percent performance in the second half. Nine different players scored for the Tide and Bama hit 4 of 11 three-point attempts with Oreal Taylor and Gamble both connecting on their first career treys.
Bama freshmen Dee Merriweather (5 points) and Lauren Hill (2 points) both scored in the collegiate debuts and junior Manisha Redus had eight points, four assists and three steals in her first game as the Tide's starting point guard.
Giovanni Price led the Bulldog offense with 12 points and the only Samford player in double figures.
Alabama returns to action on Tuesday night when the Tide welcomes Birmingham Southern to Coleman Coliseum for their home opener of the 2002-03 season. UA and BSC tip-off at 7 p.m.