Bama Women's Basketball Closes 2003 With Victory


Monday, December 29, 2003

Katie Sipe

» Box Score

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The University of Alabama women’s basketball team shook off some holiday rust and earned a come from behind 77-65 victory over Santa Clara on Monday afternoon in the team’s final game of the 2003 calendar year.

The Crimson Tide (8-3) started slow but turned things on early in the second half to earn the victory and improve to 3-0 on the season following a loss. For Santa Clara (3-8), it was the Broncos fifth straight loss and dropped their home record this season to 0-7.

A quartet of Alabama players finished in double digits with junior guards Katie Sipe and Monique Bivins each scoring 16 points to lead the team. Sipe’s total included four treys while Bivins drained a pair as part of UA’s nine for the game.

Tide freshman Navonda Moore scored 10 points to reach double digits for the 10th time this season and sophomore Dee Merriweather tallied all of her 11 points in the second stanza having to sit out much of the first half with two quick fouls. Alabama also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding SCU 49-31 including a 17-9 edge on the offensive end. Merriweather and Tawana Freeman both pulled down nine to pace the Bama boarders.

UA Junior Natasha Gamble had a near double-double recording eight points and eight rebounds. Ashley Graham scored 20 points, including a 6-for-9 performance from beyond the three-point arc, to lead the Broncos.

Santa Clara got off to a quick start and gained a double-digit lead (18-8) just eight minutes into the game. Alabama battled back over the next three minutes to trim the deficit to a single point at 20-19, but SCU answered with six straight points. The Broncos maintained their first half advantage until Bivins nailed a jumper with 3:02 remaining in the period to but UA back in front, 33-32. The pair traded baskets and Oreal Taylor’s layup with 52 seconds remaining gave Bama the 38-37 edge at halftime. UA committed 13 first half turnovers resulting in 17 points for SCU.

Alabama’s defense got things rolling to start the second half, as the Tide held Santa Clara scoreless for the first four minutes. During the SCU drought, Alabama pushed the lead to seven points. SCU refused to go away whittling the UA margin down to just three points a couple of times.

Leading 68-61 with 3:36 remaining, Alabama scored the next nine points over the next three minutes of action to open up the decisive lead. The Bama scoring run included a perfect 6-for-6 showing from the free throw line to ice the game. The Tide had just five miscues in the closing 20 minutes of action.

“I thought we did a good job in the second half of establishing our posts on the offensive end,” said UA head coach Rick Moody. “We still need to do a better job of taking care of the basketball. I saw some good things we can take from this game. I felt like it was a total team effort and that we played hard for 40 minutes. I was most pressed with the play of Natasha Gamble. She played one of the most inspired games of her career on both ends of the floor.”

The Tide returns home for its next action, their 2004 opener versus Houston at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama (8-3)                38-39—77
Santa Clara (3-8)            37-28—65