Alabama Cruises To Easy Victory

Sophomore Ericka Russell scored 13 points while junior Varisia Raffington added 11 points and six rebounds to lead the Alabama women's basketball team to a 71-38 win over the Presbyterian College Blue Hose Monday at Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama improves to 7-5 while Presbyterian College falls to 1-10 on the season.

Sophomore Carmen McCoy had nine points and four rebounds while junior Katie Hancock chipped in eight points to go along with five rebounds. Junior Tierney Jenkins added seven points and four rebounds in a dominating effort that saw 11 of the Tide's 12 players show up in the scoring column.

"We shot the ball so much better today," Alabama Coach Wendell Hudson said. "A lot of the things we've been doing all season, as far as playing on the defensive end of the court and playing hard. We've done that consistently. It makes the game real easy when you can shoot the basketball."

For the game, Alabama scored 36 points off 26 Presbyterian College turnovers. Furthermore, the 38 points allowed by the Tide are the fewest this season. Alabama had previously allowed a season low of 39 points in a 79-39 win over Jackson State on Nov. 17.

"I thought it was a team effort," Hudson said. "We played a lot of different people and a lot of different combinations, but the intensity level never dropped and the scoring never dropped."

The Tide trailed the Blue Hose 11-6 over the initial 6:14 of the first half, but quickly turned things around from there.

Alabama used a 15-2 run, spanning just over six minutes, to take control of the game. Raffington and junior Alyson Butler got things started with a pair of back-to-back three-pointers to give the Tide its first lead of the game at 12-11. Russell and Jenkins then combined for Alabama's next ten points to give the Tide a 21-13 lead at the 7:59 mark.

Blue Hose leading scorer Mariah Pietrowski, who came in averaging 13 points per game, picked up her second foul of the first half at the 10:02 mark and did not return. Pietrowski had scored six of Presbyterian College's 13 points before she got into foul trouble. Presbyterian only managed eight points with her on the bench as Alabama closed the half on a 20-6 run.

"We had a slow start in the first (half), but came out in the second half strong offensively and played with a lot of intensity on the defensive end," senior Dedrea Magee said. "We saw today that if we play together as a team, play all 40 minutes, we can be a good team."

The second half began much like the first half ended with the Tide dominating the Blue Hose. Following a basket by Presbyterian College's Kristen Stevens, Alabama outscored the Blue Hose 12-0 over a nearly ten minute stretch of action to take a 55-25 lead midway through the half.

The Tide extended the lead to as much as 36 on a pair of free throws by freshman Celiscia Farmer at the 5:04 mark before coasting home for the victory.

"Regardless of what the score is you have to play the same, and I think mentally good teams understand that," Hudson said. "Teams that are still growing and trying to get to that point struggle with that some. Hopefully we're getting to that point where we understand. Regardless of what the score is and who we're playing against, you have to go out and play, play hard and do the things that you do in practice."

Monday's game marked the third annual 5th Grade Fastbreak game for the Crimson Tide. Over 3,000 fifth graders from the Tuscaloosa area took in the action at Coleman Coliseum.

"I would like to bottle them up and keep them here for every game," Hudson said. "This group, they were having a good time, it was fun and it was a great atmosphere. The last two years I have attributed the fifth graders, really last year they really won a game for us. I want to thank all the schools and this program we have where we're helping and mentoring the fifth graders – it's good for both of us. I know it's good for us. I hope it's good for the fifth grade."

Freshman Dria David led the Blue Hose with 10 points, as she was the only double digit scorer for Presbyterian College.

Alabama will take a nine-day break before returning to action Dec. 30 against Southern Mississippi. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. (CST) at Coleman Coliseum.

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