Alabama Unable to Hold Lead in Loss to South Alabama


Alabama Unable to Hold Lead in Loss to South Alabama

Friday, December 30, 2005


MOBILE, Ala. – It was a great 30 minutes for the Alabama women’s basketball team in the final game of the South Alabama Classic against host South Alabama in Mobile tonight. Unfortunately, it was the home team that got hot at the right time, helping South Alabama (6-5) overcome a deficit to win a hard-fought 56-48 decision over the Tide (6-6).

“I thought we played very well defensively in the first half,” head coach Stephany Smith said. “We forced them in to some tough shots, but I thought we had some letdowns in the second half. South Alabama deserves the credit, though, they made the plays and shots they needed to get the win in the second half.”

The Tide utilized a suffocating defense throughout much of the game to hold the Jaguars in check and build a formidable lead of its own in the earlygoing. South Alabama managed just five field goals in the first half, shooting just 25 percent from the field and scoring just 14 points, a season-low for a Tide opponent.

In the second half, however, the tables turned, particularly in the last 10 minutes. South Alabama, led by its star JoAnna Williams, went on a barrage from downtown, knocking down 6-of-9 from behind the arc to fuel the Jaguar comeback.

After leading by as many as 13 in the second half, the Tide lead dissipated over several minutes. South Alabama took the lead at the 8:31 mark and never relinquished it.

Meanwhile, Alabama had a tough time getting anything going on the offensive end in the second half. Harriet Barnes scored a basket at the 17:26 mark that proved to be the last for Alabama for over 10 minutes. Navonda Moore finally ended the drought with a lay-up with 6:33 left to play.

The Tide clawed back, though, drawing within three with just over three minutes to play, but another trey by Williams put USA up six. South Alabama was able to make just enough free throws down the stretch to hold on to the victory.

Alabama was outstanding, once again, on the glass. The Tide grabbed 44 rebounds on the night to USA’s 26. It marked the sixth time this season that Alabama outrebounded its opponent by more than 15 rebounds.

Leading the way for the Tide was the inside duo of Barnes and Dee Merriweather. Merriweather recorded her second double figure rebounding game in as many nights, as she pulled down 11. It was the sixth time this season and the 18th in Merriweather’s career that she had more than 10 rebounds in a game.

Barnes was also impressive on the glass, tying Merriweather for game-high honors with 11 caroms of her own. It was  Barnes’ career high and the first time in her career in double figures on the boards.

Marverly Nettles scored 11 points to lead Alabama, the only UA player to tally double figures in the scoring column. Nettles knocked down 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the game.

Moore scored nine points for the Tide, while Barnes tallied eight. Kate Mastin added seven points and two assists for Alabama.

Williams finished with 21 points for South Alabama, a game-high.

The Tide will return home for the final non-conference tilt on Monday, Jan. 2. Alabama will face East Carolina at 4:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum before beginning SEC play.

Alabama’s first league game will be in Gainesville against the Gators on Thursday, Jan. 5.