Alabama earns fifth-straight victory against No. 20 Tennessee

 

From Special Reports

 

 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Cierra Johnson had 17 points and seven rebounds to lead five players in double figures Thursday night in the Alabama women's basketball team's 86-65 victory against No. 20 Tennessee in a Southeastern Conference game at Coleman Coliseum. 

 

Ariyah Copeland added 16 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots, while Shaquera Wade had 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals to help the Crimson Tide (10-8, 2-3 SEC) earn their fifth-straight victory against the Lady Volunteers. 

 

It is the first time since 1970 Tennessee has lost four consecutive games. 

 

Tennessee (12-5, 1-4) missed its first 12 shots of the fourth quarter. By the time Evina Westbrook broke the drought with 3 minutes, 21 seconds to play, the Crimson Tide had put together a 17-3 run and led 77-60. 

 

Tennessee lost its first six games of 1970 but only have scores for four of those games and no results for the next four. The late Pat Summitt took over the program in 1974 and coached the Lady Vols to 1,098 wins before stepping down in 2012 because of illness. Holly Warlick has been the coach since. 

 

The last three-game skid was in February 1986 and included back-to-back home losses for the first time since December 1996. 

 

Jasmine Walker had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Ashley Knight had 11 points to help Alabama earn its largest victory against Tennessee (12-5, 1-4) in the history of the rivalry. 

 

The 21-point win also was the largest margin of victory against a ranked opponent since Feb. 14, 1998, and the biggest margin for an unranked Alabama team against a team ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. 

 

"It was about getting back to work after the embarrassment on Sunday in College Station," said Alabama coach Kristy Curry coach, referring to a 70-43 loss to Texas A&M on Sunday. "It wasn't about who we played tonight. It was about who we needed to be. We went back to work on Tuesday and Wednesday and worked on Alabama getting better. We broke it down, we were persistent and we were positive with them. Tonight, I think we saw those results." 

 

Alabama shot 50 percent (34-for-68) from the field, but it was 19-for-35 (54.2 percent) in the second half. The Crimson Tide broke open a close game by outscoring the Lady Volunteers 26-10 in the fourth quarter. Tennessee was 3-for-21 from the field (14.3 percent) in the final 10 minutes. 

 

Alabama grabbed a 28-22 lead with 6:33 left in the second quarter after a Walker knocked down a mid-range jumper. The teams traded baskets until Alabama took a 36-34 lead at halftime. 

 

With 7 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Wade converted an old-fashioned three-point play to give Alabama a 43-36 lead. On the ensuing Tennessee possession, freshman Megan Abrams turned a steal into a layup to make it 45-36. A late spurt by Tennessee cut the Alabama lead to 60-55 entering the final frame. 

 

The Crimson Tide opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 surge to make it 70-57 with 7:25 remaining. Alabama outscored Tennessee 20-8 in the final seven minutes and held the Lady Volunteers to two field goals in their final eight attempts. 

 

Alabama held the Lady Volunteers to 34 percent shooting (27-for-80) shooting and 17 percent (4-for-23) from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide also had 16 assists to Tennessee's nine. 

 

Alabama will return to action at 1 p.m. Sunday (SEC Network) when it plays host to LSU at Coleman Coliseum. It will be the team's annual "We Back Pat" game.  

 

Alabama also will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1994 Final Four team.  

 

n Mississippi University for Women 80, Selma University 59: At Columbus, Qiayon Bailey had 17 points and Tenazhia Hinkson had 15 Thursday to lead the No. 1 Owls (12-5) to their victory at Pohl Gymnasium. 

 

Bailey, a junior from West Point, was 7-for-14 from the field and went 3-for-5 at the free-throw line. This outing marks the fourth time this season the junior guard has led her team in scoring. 

 

For Hinkson, it was her fourth-straight game hitting double figures. The Owls' only senior also added seven rebounds, three assists, and four steals. 

 

Junior Keyahna Jones recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Autumn Taylor added 11 points and 10 rebounds. 

 

Junior guard Starlandria Walton had 11 points to round out the double-digit scoring for The W. 

 

Leading 31-19 at halftime, The W used a 13-4 run with 3 minutes, 14 seconds left in the third quarter to retain a 50-35 lead. 

 

Selma (2-11) opened the fourth making two free throws and a 3-point to cut the deficit, but The W used an 11-5 run to make up the difference. After a Selma foul and a rebound off a missed free throw, the Owls took their largest lead, 72-50, with 3:44 remaining.  

 

The W will play host to Morris College at 1 p.m. Saturday. The men's team will follow with a 3 p.m. game. 

 

n Earlier in the day, The W retained its No. 1 ranking in the United States College Athletic Association poll. The W received 246 points. University of Maine-Fort Kent was second with 245. Paul Quinn College was third with 243. 

 

n Southern Mississippi 65, Charlotte 54: At Hattiesburg, Shonte Hailes had 23 points, four steals, and three assists Thursday to lead the Lady Eagles past the 49ers in a Conference USA game. 

 

Hailes was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line to lead Southern Miss (9-9, 1-4 C-USA).  

 

Kelsey Jones and Megan Brown also had good performances for the Lady Eagles. Brown had 12 points and Jones had nine and a team-high seven rebounds. 

 

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak against Charlotte. 

 

Southern Miss will play host to Old Dominion at 4 p.m. Saturday. 

 

Men 

 

n Southern Mississippi 63, Charlotte 60: At Charlotte, North Carolina, Tyree Griffin hit a 3-pointer in final second to lift the Golden Eagles past the 49ers in a Conference USA game. 

 

"He said that if they opened the lane, try to get fouled and score," Griffin said of coach Doc Sadler's timeout strategy. "I saw that they overplayed Cortez (Edwards), so I took the shot. A win is great, but on the road is even better." 

 

Sadler said the Golden Eagles wanted to go for it with five seconds left. 

 

"We put our two shooters right under the free-throw line with the two bigs extended to the corners, and Cortez being one of the bigs," he said. "If he had slipped like he was supposed to, we would have shot the layup instead of the three. You gotta give Tyree credit. He held onto it like he was supposed to and jump in there with a big shot. So many times he's been in a situation where we've asked him to do so much late. You worry about him not having any legs left. It was just a huge shot." 

 

The 49ers led 44-35 with 12:52 left, but the Golden Eagles went on a 15-5 run to regain a 51-49 lead at 8:38, courtesy of two Leonard Harper-Baker free throws. Kevin Holland's fourth 3-pointer of the night pushed the lead to 58-51 with 5:12 remaining. 

 

The Golden Eagles only scored five points the rest of the way. Harper-Baker hit a fast-break layup off a Holland steal for a 60-54 lead at 2:32. After Charlotte's Jon Davis tied the game with a jumper with 1:15 left, he missed on his go-ahead attempt with 28 seconds left. Davis led Charlotte with 20 points, 16 of which came in the second half. 

 

The win marks the first time Southern Miss has won back-to-back games against Charlotte in the 36-game history of the series. 

 

Southern Miss will face Old Dominion at 3 p.m. Saturday. 

 

prepare for a Saturday afternoon battle at Old Dominion. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. CT. 

 

n Mississippi University for Women 86, Selma University 80: At Columbus, Shon Wright had 18 points Thursday night to lead the Owls (4-12) to their home victory. 

 

In a game that featured nine ties and eight lead changes, The W ran its winning streak to three games. Wright led the way of the bench by going 5-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range.. He was perfect at the line to go 5-for-5 to add five additional points. 

 

Tavonta Jones had15 points, Keith Harris had 13, Tre Pinkston and Josh Skinner had 11, and DJ Clark had 10. 

 

The Owls had a 38-26 edge in bench points. The W gathered 23 Leading 39-38 at halftime, The W used a 25-14 run for its largest lead of 12 points with 9:31 remaining. The Bulldogs tied the game at 76, but The W hit six free throws in the last two minutes. 

 

The W will play host to Morris College at 3 p.m. Saturday. 

 

Junior Colleges 

 

n Itawamba Community College splits doubleheader against Mississippi Delta C.C.: At Fulton, Former Starkville High School standout Tabreea Gandy had 15 points Thursday to lead the Itawamba Community College women's basketball team to a 66-49 victory against Mississippi Delta C.C. 

 

Kealy Wilson had 12 points for the Lady Indians (11-2, 3-0 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges North Division). 

 

Darius Jackson had 17 points to lead the Mississippi Delta C.C. men to a 77-69 victory. 

 

Ma'Darius Hobson had 21 points to lead ICC (6-8, 0-3). 

 

Avion Graham had 16 for Mississippi Delta (6-8, 1-2). 

 

 

 

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