Women's Basketball Beats Florida
Alabama junior forward Tierney Jenkins scored a season-high 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds, marking her seventh double-double of the season. Freshman guard Celiscia Farmer had a career-high 19 points in addition to seven rebounds, while sophomore guard Ericka Russell scored 18 points and added seven assists.
"It felt good," Russell said. "We've been waiting on this win. We've been working hard every day in practice. We just haven't been getting the results. It feels good and I hope we take this win and continue to do well in the SEC."
Jenkins, who fell one point shy of tying her career-high of 29, set a new highwater mark for SEC play. Her previous best was set last year in the Tide's lone conference win, as she went for 25 on Feb. 19 in a 67-59 win over Mississippi.
Farmer, who set a career high with 18 points just a week ago in a 74-62 loss at Auburn, bested that by one point scoring Alabama's final bucket as the final buzzer sounded.
"Tierney and I talked about this before the game at the shoot around," UA head coach Wendell Hudson said. "You can look in her eyes and tell that the light switch has finally gone on in there that every play is important. C.C. (Celiscia Farmer) is just getting better and better. Offensively, there was no question at any point in the season, offensively, that she could play. The big key was defensively when she blocked a shot, caused some problems and got some tip balls, and I think that's the reason why she is playing now."
After taking a 38-26 halftime lead, Alabama rocketed out of the locker room, going on a 12-3 run over the first eight minutes of the half to take its largest lead of the evening at 50-29. Jenkins and Farmer combined for nine of the 12 points while the Tide defense forced nine Florida turnovers and held the Gators to just 1-of-9 from the field.
A 7-0 Florida run, spanning just 1:26 of the half, quickly cut the Alabama lead to 50-36, however the Tide responded right back with a 9-0 run of its own keyed by seven points from Russell to take complete control of the game at 59-36 with just under nine minutes remaining. The teams traded buckets over the final stretch as Alabama held a lead of no fewer than 18 the rest of the way.
For the game Florida connected on just 22-of-70 shots (31.4 percent), while the Tide was true on 32-of-55 (58.2 percent). The Gators turned the ball over 24 times, with only 11 assists, and did not have one player notch double digits in the scoring column. Additionally, Alabama held a 24-4 advantage in fast break points.
"We knew that they had great perimeter shooters," Russell said. "We just wanted to be able to contest every shot. We worked on it this week with the scout team. We worked in practice on being a great defender on every possession. That's what we keyed on tonight."
The final margin equaled UA's biggest lead of the game and also marked the first time the Tide has beaten an SEC opponent by 20 or more points since a 69-39 win over Kentucky on Jan. 9, 2005. Additionally, that year was also the last time Alabama beat Florida - a 77-66 win at Coleman Coliseum.
"Defensively, we couldn't have played a better defensive game," Hudson said. "Florida is a good basketball team, and I thought we took them out of a lot of things that they wanted to do. We jumped to the ball and helped. We had more steals than we've had all year, and blocks. We had a lot of good things happen. When you have 21 assists, you know you're playing pretty good basketball."
After falling behind 4-0 Alabama put the clamps down defensively, forcing three consecutive turnovers that resulted in a quick six points and the lead just three minutes into the game.
Jenkins led the Tide in the early going, scoring eight of the Tide's first 12 points.
An 8-0 Alabama run midway through the first half gave the Tide a 22-14 lead at the 10:14 mark, however a pair of three pointers pulled the Gators within a bucket three minutes later. Alabama, though, withstood the surge and slowly but surely expounded the lead to 38-26 at halftime. Jenkins and Farmer scored a combined ten points over the stretch.
The Tide looks for back-to-back SEC wins for the first time since the beginning of the 2006 season when it hosts Arkansas on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CST)
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