Yes, Virginia, Tide Has Women's Basketball
"This was a fun game," said Alabama Coach Wendell Hudson. "The officials let both teams play, and if you had a weak heart, this was not the game to be playing in. This is getting us ready for our SEC schedule as this was an SEC-style game. We had some people step up and play a lot of minutes and play the way we need them to play."
Sophomore Daisha Simmons led all scorers with 22 points. Also finishing in doubles figures was junior Shafontaye Myers with 14 points and senior Meghan Perkins and sophomore Briana Hutchen, who added 10 points apiece. Simmons also added a team-high seven rebounds, five steals and five assists.
Virginia led early by as many as seven before Alabama went on a 13-4 run to take the 15-13 lead at the 10:56 mark. The Cavaliers tied the game off a fast break layup with 6:38 to go in the first, but the Tide would respond with seven unanswered points for the 24-17 advantage. Virginia would close out the half on a 12-5 run to tie the score at 29 heading into the break.
The Cavaliers knocked down a three-pointer to score the first basket of the second half, giving Virginia its first lead since the 11:08 mark in the first. Simmons responded with a three of her own moments later, locking the game at 32. There were two more ties and three lead changes over the next three minutes with neither team taking more than a three-point advantage until Alabama scored back-to-back baskets for the 45-40 edge with 11:02 to go. The Tide would pull ahead by as many as seven before the Cavaliers battled their way back into the game, eventually taking the lead back at the 2:04 mark. Myers connected on her second three-pointer of the game on the ensuing possession to put Alabama back in front, 58-56. Virginia would tie the game again with just over 30 seconds remaining, and the Tide was unable to get a shot to fall, sending the game into overtime.
Simmons completed the old-fashioned three-point play to put Alabama ahead early in the extra period. The Tide led until Cavalier senior Simone Egwu scored with 39 seconds remaining to give Virginia the 64-63 edge. Alabama was unable to hit a shot on its next possession, forcing the Tide to foul the Cavaliers. Egwu hit both of her free throws to give Virginia a three-point edge and Alabama the ball with under 10 seconds remaining. Simmons drove the ball down the court and delivered it Myers, who banked in a three-pointer with three seconds to go, tying the game at 66 to force a second overtime.
The Cavaliers struck first in the second overtime as senior China Crosby hit a jumper at the 3:39 mark. Myers responded with her fourth three-pointer of the game to give the Tide a one-point edge. Alabama would hold onto the lead for the next two minutes until a basket by Egwu put Virginia on top once again with 1:29 to go. Junior Jasmine Robinson was fouled with 15 seconds remaining and hit both of her shots to give the Tide a 71-70 advantage. Myers came up with a huge defensive rebound off a missed shot on the other end and was fouled with one second to go. She would go on to hit both of her free throws, giving Alabama the victory.
For the game, the Tide shot 31.6 percent for the game (24-76) while the Cavaliers were 35.2 percent from the floor (25-71). Virginia out-rebounded the Tide, 63-47; however Alabama forced 32 Cavalier turnovers. The Tide had 17 steals and 16 assists in the game.
"We came out and put out a great effort against a good basketball team, and that's the lesson we're still learning," added Hudson. "If we play that way every game, we have a chance to have a good basketball team."
Alabama will have a four-day break before heading to Honolulu for the Bank of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine Invitational, which will run Dec. 28-30. The Tide will face Cincinnati, Long Island and Hawai'i.
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