Crouched in her usual spot on the sideline, Alabama women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry looked toward her assistants and threw her hands in the air. Three minutes into the game her concern was obvious, and it took almost the entire 40 minutes for that to change.

The Crimson Tide and the Commodores went back and forth for much of the final quarter, but Alabama made the free throws necessary to edge last-place Vanderbilt, 77-75, at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday.

“I thought we had different (players) play-after-play step up and make plays against a really, really high-powered and hot Vanderbilt team that is scoring the basketball really well right now,” Curry said.

The lead changed hands 13 different times in the game, but it was Meoshonti Knight, Ashley Williams and Hannah Cook who made free throws in the final minute of the game to push UA past the Commodores.

With 32 seconds remaining, Vanderbilt guard Chelsie Hall blew past the Alabama defense to give her team a one-point lead. It wouldn’t last long.

The Commodores fouled on the last four Alabama possessions, giving the Crimson Tide eight free-throw attempts in the remaining 24 seconds. At 12 seconds left in the game, Cook made both of her shots to give Alabama the deciding 3-point advantage.

“When I got up there I was trusting, because I’ve really been working on my free throws a lot in the offseason,” Knight said. “And so I was really just like, ‘Take your time and do what you have been doing.’”

It was a long journey to that deciding final minute for Curry’s team.

The Crimson Tide shot just 24 percent in the first quarter, and did not make a field goal for the last four minutes of that span. Despite dominating on the offensive glass, Alabama finished with its lowest first-quarter total of conference play.

Williams, who made her return from an upper-body injury against the Commodores, had an immediate impact on the game by grabbing four offensive rebounds in the first quarter. Those helped the Crimson Tide pile up 10 second-chance opportunities in that time, but it converted them into just two points.

“It looked like we were sluggish defensively,” Curry said about the poor start. “I tried to open pressing to try to get our juices flowing a little bit. We got off to a poor start, but I think over the course of 20 minutes we were able to get a few more stops and a few more plays. But, we certainly want to stop digging ourselves a hole.”

Aided by 12 Alabama fouls, Vanderbilt was efficient early against the Crimson Tide, and built a 13-point lead on two separate occasions in the first 20 minutes. The double-digit advantages served as wake-up calls for Curry’s team each time, and Alabama mustered up an 11-2 run late in the second quarter that drained Vanderbilt’s lead to just five by halftime.

Leading the way back for Alabama were Knight and Cook, who finished with 17 and 16 points, respectively.

“The player of the game was (Knight),” Curry said. “She has just continued to work hard every day. She has been shooting the ball well, and I knew she was about to have a big day.”

Knight’s scoring had taken a dip since sharing more minutes with some of the guards this season, making her season-high contribution a good sign for the Crimson Tide going forward.

Alabama will hit the road next week to take on Kentucky and Auburn.