A basketball team in post-season play is in single elimination, so the goal is to keep playing. The Alabama women’s basketball led from start to finish Thursday at Coleman Coliseum in defeating Tulane 72-64 in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
And so, Alabama plays on. The Crimson Tide has reached the quarterfinals of the WNIT for the second time in history and the first time since it became a 64-team field.
Bama has three wins under its belt, but now goes on the road for the first time in the tournament. Alabama will play at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. EDT (1 central time) Sunday.
The Tide, which improved to 22-13, had four players in double figures, led by junior Hannah Cook with 18 points on 7-10 shooting, including 4-6 on three-point shots.
Joining Cook in double figures were fellow juniors Ashley Williams (15) and Quanetria Bolton (13) along with freshman Jordan Lewis (13). Williams and sophomore Shaquera Wade each chipped in a game-high eight rebounds, while Lewis finished with a game-high six assists. Freshman Ashley Knight added three blocks to bring her season total to 87. The Green Wave was led by junior Kolby Morgan, who scored a game-high 26 points, and senior Leslie Vorpahl, who chipped in 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Tulane had more field goals than Bama, hitting 25-58 for 46.2 per cent, to Alabama’s 23-47 for 48.9 per cent. The Tide made 8-14 treys (57.1 per cent) to the Green Wave’s 5-17 (29.4 per cent). Both teams hit 60 per cent of their free throws, but Bama shot twice as many as Tulane was forced to foul late in the game. Alabama made 9-10 free throws in the final minutes in protecting its lead and finished with 18-30.
Bama out-rebounded the Green Wave by 39-27, but the Tide was guilty of 18 turnovers to only 10 for Tulane.
Alabama had 16 assists on its 23 field goals.
The Tide led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter before a Tulane run cut the lead in half, forcing Bama to make its foul shots. The only time the game was tied was for 12 seconds to start the game at 0-0.
Tulane finished the season at 18-15. Kolby Morgan led the Green Wave in scoring with a game-high 26 points on 8-16 field goals (4-7 three-pointers) and 6-7 free throws.
Alabama got off to a hot start with back-to-back baskets in a 60-second span to lead Tulane (18-15), 5-0. The Tide pulled in front by 10 at the 5:17 mark, but the Green Wave would cut it down to four after scoring the next six points. From there, Alabama would outscore Tulane, 10-4, to close out the first and lead 23-13 at quarter’s end.
The Tide continued to lead throughout the second quarter and didn’t allow the Green Wave to get any closer than eight. Alabama would pull in front by as many as 12 and held a nine-point advantage heading into the locker room at the half, 33-24.
Tulane scored on consecutive possessions to start the third, cutting the Alabama lead down to six, but Bolton put up the next eight points in the game to push the Tide’s lead out to 14, 41-27, at the 7:33 mark. Alabama held a double-digit lead throughout the rest of the period and led, 52-40, heading into the final quarter.
The Tide extended its lead to 17 early in the fourth, but the Green Wave used an 11-2 run to make it an eight-point game, 59-51, with 4:57 to play. The two teams went back and forth for the duration, trading buckets until time expired. Tulane would come no closer than six and Alabama would hit nine of its 10 free throws over the last 4:23 to seal the victory.
“We talked after the game about what we could take away and continue to learn from tonight, and I thought they had some great points,” said Alabama Coach Kristy Curry. “It was composure and little things as we went throughout each one. I thought that down the stretch, we had great composure against a very well coached Tulane team. My hats off to Leslie Vorpahl for a great career there, just an outstanding leader, you can tell. They are just a very well coached team and Lisa Stockton does a great job. We were fortunate to have a few more plays that we made.”