Jordan Lewis, the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, had a chance to give Alabama the lead in the final seconds of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament at Coleman Coliseum Sunday. She missed the shot. But she grabbed the rebound and put it back with 5.1 seconds to give the Tide a 55-53 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock.
Alabama, which trailed by seven points entering the fourth quarter, improved its record to 21-13 and advanced to the round of 16 in the WNIT.
Bama will get its third straight home game in the tournament when the Tide hosts either Tulane or Grambling State at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We played a really good basketball team today,” said Alabama Coach Kristy Curry. “I have a lot of respect for Coach (Joe) Foley and his program and have for years. They just make it really hard. They do a great job of shortening the game and really executing. We were fortunate down the stretch to get enough stops. Our energy in the third and the fourth quarter was completely different than the first two quarters. I’ll go back and try to work on that these next couple of days. This was just a fun game for our fans, and I appreciate everybody that came out.
“We need a great crowd in here Thursday,” added Curry. “We need for the Crimson Tide fans to get behind this team and be here for us at 7 on Thursday night.”
Little Rock led Alabama by 13 points with 4:23 to play in the third quarter, but Bama was able to cut the lead with a 9-3 run to trail by only 7 going to the final stanza. Eight unanswered points by the Tide made it a game, but Little Rock maintained the lead for most of the game. In fact, the Tide had the lead for only 1:19 in the game, while Little Rock led for 31:34 with the game tied for 7:07.
Alabama was led in scoring and rebounding for the second straight game by junior Ashley Williams, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. She was joined in double figures by sophomore Shaquera Wade with 10. Lewis recorded seven points and added five rebounds, three assists and three steals, while fellow freshman Ashley Knight chipped in eight points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
The Trojans (25-9) were led in scoring by senior Shardé Collins with 20 points, while senior Kaitlyn Pratt pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
For the game, Alabama shot 35.0 percent (21-60), while Little Rock finished at 40.4 per cent (21-52) from the floor. The Tide outrebounded the Trojans, 38-35, holding a 15-8 advantage on the offensive glass. Alabama also outscored Little Rock in the paint, 38-10.
Little Rock knocked down the first shot of the game and led throughout the quarter, pulling in front by as many as eight. With the Trojans leading 12-4, Alabama embarked on an 8-2 run to cut it to two, 14-12, at quarter’s end.
The Tide continued its run in the second quarter and grabbed the lead at the 6:15 mark off a three from junior Quanetria Bolton. Little Rock responded with back-to-back threes and finished out the frame by scoring 18 of the next 24 points to lead 32-23 at the half.
Alabama scored four consecutive points to open the third, however the Trojans responded with 13 of the next 18 to take a 45-32 lead with 4:23 to go in the period. The Tide closed out the quarter on a 9-3 run to cut the Little Rock lead to seven, 48-41, with 10 minutes to go.
Alabama recorded eight unanswered to begin the fourth, taking a 49-48 lead at the 6:33 mark. The game would go back and forth for the duration with three ties and two more lead changes, including the final lead change that came on the Tide’s last possession with the Lewis putback. The Trojans used a timeout to advance the ball with 5.1 seconds to go, but they were unable to get a shot off before time expired.
Little Rock’s season ended at 25-9.