Ready when needed

For a basketball player, it doesn't get much better than that. After leading for most of the night, Alabama suddenly found itself down by two points with less than four minutes remaining in the game. <br><br>Enter Antoine Pettway.

For most of the game against Charlotte, Pettway had concentrated on dishing the ball to his teammates--often at the expense of his own shot. But during the next three minutes, the senior point guard nailed the 49ers with two consecutive three-point bombs, reclaiming both the lead and game momentum for his team.

Guard Earnest Shelton commented. "Those two shots were huge. I just wish Antoine had made three," Shelton said laughing.

In the first half Pettway totaled zero points. As in zilch; nada.

But by game's end he had 13, second-best for the Tide.

"Antoine was overlooking his offense all night; he was passing a lot," Shelton related.

Unselfishness is one thing, but Bama needed someone willing and able to step up and knock down clutch shots at the end. And Shelton nominated Pettway.

"In the huddle I told him, ‘Shoot the ball; shoot it!'" Shelton recalled. "‘Don't look this way. Don't look that way. Catch and shoot it.

"‘You're a great shooter. Just knock it down.'"

For most of Wednesday's game Antoine Pettway concentrated on getting his teammates involved in the offense, but when the game was in balance he stepped up to the three-point line to seal the win. (Kent Gidley photo)

Of course Pettway wasn't the only hero in Bama's 79-72 win over Charlotte. Credit goes to Shelton as well, who led all scorers with 22. But as he's done many times in his career, Pettway was in the right place at the right time to help his team win the game.

Head Coach Mark Gottfried commented.

"I'm a believer in this. Guys that have good character and do the right things all the time, they seem to get the breaks. The ball bounces their way. That's Antoine. He's such a good person and good guy that he deserves to make big shots like that.

Plenty of athletes can nail three-pointers in the gym, but a select few want the ball when the game is on the line.

"He showed a lot of courage," Gottfried added. "Antoine certainly wasn't afraid. He never has been the whole time I've known him. He stepped up and made some big shots for us."

All of Pettway's field goals came from behind the three-point arc. He also was a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line, all coming in the final 10 seconds to ice the game for the Tide. The senior also contributed two rebounds, two assists and two steals against two turnovers.

Shelton said that knowing your senior point guard is ready and willing to step up and take the clutch shot is huge.

"It helps your confidence," he explained. "It was a tight ball game at the time and Antoine stepped up and knocked down those threes. It doesn't get any bigger than that. Your confidence goes up. The defensive intensity goes up.

"Pettway stepped up big at the end. He saved the best for last."

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