TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The race is not over yet.
Now hosting a WNIT game at the Coleman Coliseum, Alabama (20-13) took advantage of the home court and took the win over Houston (18-16) by a final score of 79-64.
“It was really fun playing Coleman, obviously my favorite place to play,” said senior guard Megan Abrams. “The crowd was a huge factor.”
For the second straight time in the WNIT, Alabama faced the team it has faced before in the regular season. After avenging their regular season loss to Tulane on Monday night, Thursday night saw their second loss with Houston of the season, after winning the opener 77-67.
From the first minutes of the revenge, Alabama’s attack is as fluid as it is efficient. Alabama got everything they wanted offensively, specifically thriving inside the lane and beyond the arc. Six of seven Alabama players who saw action in the first quarter scored, leading to a double-digit lead before the first quarter even ended.
The second quarter saw the scenario change in a major way. Alabama ran a confrontation zone defensively from the first tip and I caused Houston problems, forcing 7 turnovers in the first quarter. From there, however, the Cougars used a inside-out offensive approach that led to inside baskets and open three-pointers on ball rotations, coming back from their deficit and even taking a brief lead.
Alabama would have trailed at halftime if not for a three-pointer from Abrams at the halftime buzzer.
At halftime, it was clear Alabama could get away with the game if they tightened up their defense, and they did just that.
Scroll to continue
The third quarter acted as a 22-6 run, with a 15-0 run for the Crimson Tide taking place over four minutes midway through the quarter. The offense again spread across the entire lineup as Alabama did a great job of making contact and reaching the foul line.
“We’ve moved away from what we were doing at the start of the game in terms of player tendencies,” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry said. “We made sure to do well [Houston’s] Blair uncomfortable.”
Senior guard JaMya Mingo-Young proved to be central in Alabama’s game-winning third-quarter run. Mingo-Young was active on both sides of the ball, as she has been all season, and used her defense to attack with steals and run-outs or fouls drawn.
Houston tried to get interesting in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to as little as nine points with successive three-pointers. Alabama composed themselves, however, clinging on to victory.
“We kind of chilled out a bit. We went through our press break and put everyone in their place,” Curry said. “Basketball is a racing game, nothing is easy here in March.”
Mingo-Young was Crimson Tide’s second leading scorer in the game, with 17 points on just three field goals, going 9-12 from the free throw line. Abrams led Alabama in scoring with 18 points.
“They’ve been consistent here through the stretch,” Curry said. “I think when [Abrams, Mingo-Young, and Brittany Davis] are a 1-2-3 punch that they are incredibly difficult to defend against.”
The win means Alabama has qualified for the WNIT quarterfinals. The Crimson Tide will face the winner of Drake and South Dakota State in the quarterfinals on Sunday. The time and place of the match have not yet been determined.
Gallery: Alabama vs. Houston