Big Second Half Lifts Tide Women To Win

The Alabama women’s basketball team outscored North Alabama 50-17 in the second half of Sunday’s exhibition contest to lift the Crimson Tide to an 80-48 victory in Foster Auditorium.

Alabama sophomore Ashley Williams recorded a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds and was joined in double figures by senior Briana Hutchen (15), freshmen Meoshonti Knight (13) and Diamanté Martinez (10). Senior Sharin Rivers led Alabama with six assists.

For the game, the Tide shot 49.2 percent (29-59) while limiting the Lions to 29.5 percent (18-61) from the floor. Alabama outscored North Alabama 52-18 in the paint and capitalized on the 28 turnovers it forced as the Tide had 35 points off turnovers.

Junior Nikki Hegstetter scored the game’s first basket less than a minute in to get the Tide on the board first. Alabama led by as many as seven early on, however three consecutive three pointers for North Alabama gave the Lions a 16-15 lead with 9:00 to go in the half. The Tide used a 9-2 run over the next four minutes to get back in front, but North Alabama would strike again with the threes to lead 31-30 at the half.

Alabama came out blazing in the second half, outscoring the Lions 19-2 over the first five minutes. The Tide continued to distance itself from North Alabama down the stretch, leading by as many as 32 in the contest.

Alabama tips off the regular season on Friday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m. CT against Florida A&M. The game will be played at Coleman Coliseum and is the frontend of a doubleheader with the men’s basketball team.

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Opening Statement from Coach Kristy Curry:

"It was really good to have the opportunity to have the lights on today and see a different jersey and a different color. It was great experience. As you know, we only dressed eight, so it gave everybody the opportunity to improve today, and you definitely saw that as the game went on. We got better as the game went and really grew up a lot in some spots. We look forward to continuing to build on today as we head into this next week."

On the team's second half improvement and what she told them at halftime: "I think when you look at our team, we only have two players in (Briana) Hutchen and (Nikki) Hegstetter that have two years of experience in the SEC. I think it was more just a matter of a few butterflies and nerves. We were a little hesitant and paralyzed by our environment, so I told them to just start over and let the game come to you. Be you - if you just be you, that's going to be plenty good enough. I thought we looked more comfortable. We just need these kinds of minutes to improve and work through those moments where we look like we did in the first half. That's just going to come with time."

On today's positives that the team can build on:

"I think there were a lot of positives. You always take so much away from early in the year to improve, but I think the positive was our balance, especially anytime you can have that fourth player in double figures -- and we're not going to be anything other than that. We've got to have four players in double figures, I feel like, to be successful. And we had one with nine, so nearly about had five. We've got to spread the scoring around. I was pleased with that today. I thought that was a real positive was sharing the basketball well. That was good to see because we can't depend on Ashley (Williams) to carry the load. She's got to have help."

On how the low post and inside game will be a part of the game plan going forward: "It will always be that way. We want the ball to go inside then back out. We love getting the ball into the heart of the defense, and I feel like if we can do that, whether it's through the post entry or off penetration, good things are going to happen. Anytime you get the ball to the paint, great things happen. That's off ball reversal, penetration and our penetration spots. That was good to see today. We made the extra pass."

Meoshonti Knight, Guard

On her first game at UA:

“It was definitely a great experience to come out and play my first game. It was a big challenge and a big difference, but I think it went well.”

On the difference between game and practice:

“I learned that the pace was different. Everything is different, different situations and how to handle them.”

On how they pressed a lot during the game and how it affected the line:

“I think it really affected them because they really couldn’t break the press. Running to their offense, and stopping them from doing what they wanted to do held them down.”

Ashley Williams, Forward

On what her role on the team this season:

“My role is just to help my teammates and build up the freshmen coming in. It’s a whole different experience for them, so I’m just trying to help my teammates out.”

On if the process is different now:

“I think it’s a challenge this year. Coming in as a freshmen that was just my first year, and now I have three more years to go. I have to improve year after year.”

On the biggest factor of the 17 points in the second half:

“Really, we wanted to run them off the three-point line. We did not want them to shoot the threes. That was the struggle in the first half, we let them have seven three-pointers, so they scored 21 points off of that. Holding them from shooting that helped us.”

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