Alabama Women Win Foster Dedication
Junior guard Ericka Russell and freshman forward Kaneisha Horn each scored 12 points as Alabama notched its first victory in the historic building since last playing here on Dec. 3, 1981.
Alabama now stands at 13-12 on the season (2-10 SEC), having won two of its past three games, while Florida drops to 14-13 (4-9 SEC).
"This was the way we wanted to open this building, absolutely," Alabama Head Coach Wendell Hudson said. "We played hard. We were down 10 at the half and then when we made that run the energy in this building really showed up and it gave us a kick. It gave us a boost."
Trailing 34-24 at intermission, Alabama embarked on a 13-1 run over the first 6:04 of the second half to take a 37-35 lead. During the stretch, the Crimson Tide forced 10 Florida turnovers, including five straight at one point, and held the Gators without a field goal. From there, the Tide increased the margin even further, taking a 53-43 lead at the 8:49 juncture following a Russell layup that came courtesy of a beautiful full-court pass from senior point guard LaToya King.
All-in-all Alabama outscored Florida 29-9 over the first 10 minutes of the second half, connecting on seven of its first 10 shots, including a pair of three-pointers from Russell and freshman Jasmine Robinson, who added seven points for the Tide.
After settling into a groove following the opening run of the half, Alabama held a 57-48 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game before the Gators scored seven straight points to pull within two at the 4:05 juncture.
Following an Alabama timeout, Horn connected on a jumper in the lane with just five seconds left on the shot clock. King added a pair of free throws a minute later to push the Tide lead to six at 61-55 with 2:23 remaining. On the ensuing possession Florida's Ndidi Madu scored to pull the Gators within four points, however the Tide defense, which posted a season-high 19 steals on the day as part of 28 Florida turnovers, held the Gators scoreless over the final two minutes before allowing a basket with one second left.
"We made some of the same mistakes down the stretch that we had made at other times, but the energy never quit," Hudson said. "When we came back and made some free throws and some other shots, the energy was right there. I didn't want it to have to be that close to get the energy to that level, but it completely proved that if you can get a home court advantage and people will come out and cheer that really makes a big difference."
Horn scored the first basket of the game at 19:13, marking the first points scored in the newly renovated Auditorium.
King followed with a layup giving Alabama its first lead of the game at 4-2 at the 17:54 mark, however Florida used a 10-2 run over the next 2:38 to take a 12-6 advantage. The Tide cut the margin to 14-11 less than three minutes later following a basket by Jenkins and a free throw by Horn, however Alabama was not able to get any closer for the rest of the half. Florida led by as much as 12 and held a lead of no fewer than five points for the final ten minutes of the half, culminating into a 34-24 halftime advantage.
The Tide mustered just two baskets over final 8:13, and just eight overall in the first half. Jenkins led Alabama with 12 first half points on 4-of-6 shooting. However, the rest of the Tide connected on only 4-of-19 (21 percent).
Next up, the Tide will travel to Auburn on Thursday, Feb. 17 to take on the Tigers. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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