She wasn’t wearing a lab coat and goggles, but coach Kristy Curry experimented with plenty of different looks in the Alabama women’s basketball team’s 61-59 win against Georgia Tech in the Women’s NIT at Coleman Coliseum on Thursday night.
Only one mattered.
When the game came down to the wire, Curry stuck with her experienced players, and senior Meoshonti Knight delivered. The guard took a handoff at the top of the free-throw line to drive past two Georgia Tech defenders and score the game-winning basket with five seconds remaining.
“I just ripped across the (lane), and then I saw my man trailing,” Knight said. “Once I saw that they didn’t have anyone in front of me I tried to just turn it around and lay it up.”
It wasn’t without Alabama battling back multiple times throughout the night. In a game that was barren from the 3-point line for the first three quarters, Georgia Tech guard Francesca Pan splashed a fadeaway 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and give the Yellow Jackets a three-point lead late in the final quarter.
But that wasn’t the worst of Alabama’s avoided troubles — the Crimson Tide trailed by 17 early in the second quarter.
Curry used 10 different players in the first 10 minutes, none of which provided the Crimson Tide the spark it needed on offense. The Crimson Tide shot just 20 percent in the first quarter, and suffered through a seven-minute scoring drought that overlapped into the second stanza.
“We needed Meo Knight on the floor because we knew we had a mismatch and we thought we could get her off the bounce and to the free-throw line; we were in the bonus,” Curry said.
It took an old-fashioned 3-point play by Jordan Lewis to wake up UA’s offense and set up an 11-0 run to get the Crimson Tide back in the game. Alabama then went on a 9-1 run to finish the half that knotted the score 29-29.
The free-throw line was Alabama’s biggest help in surviving its offensive woes. UA made 11 of 13 shots from the charity stripe in the first half, while Georgia Tech made just 3 of 9.
“To convert was huge,” Curry said. “That’s kind of contagious. When we made those we’ve won these close games and when we’ve missed them we’ve lost these close games.”
Curry’s team had to find other ways to hang around in the second half.
The Yellow Jackets kept up their consistent scoring pace, forcing Alabama to use spurts to battle its way back from multiple three-possession deficits. Once Hannah Cook got her first basket of the game in the fourth quarter, Alabama’s options opened up on offense.
Senior Ashley Williams finished with a team-high 15 points, Lewis scored 11, and Cook finished the final segment with 9 points on perfect shooting from the floor. The Crimson Tide finished without
Next up for Alabama is a trip to Blacksburg, Virginia, against Virginia Tech in the WNIT quarterfinals on Sunday.