Alabama women’s basketball trailed by 12 points early in the fourth quarter and was down 10 with 5:40 left to play. It was there where Cierra Johnson fueled a comeback.
After an LSU turnover, Johnson pulled up from the left wing and was fouled. She stepped to the line and drained all three shots. On the very next possession, LSU’s Ayana Mitchell collected a rebound and traveled, causing an uproar on the Tigers’ bench. The bench was given a technical, and Johnson drained another pair of free throws.
With 1:53 left, Alabama trailed by just three points. LSU was on a 3:47 scoring drought, and Coleman Coliseum was electric. That didn’t matter to Shanice Norton, who stepped up and ended the drought by hitting a contested jumper, leading LSU to a 62-56 win.
Outside of its free throws, Alabama struggled to score in the fourth quarter, making just two of its nine shots.
In Alabama’s last game out, Johnson had a strong second half, scoring 15 of her 17 points in the final 30 minutes. Her hot streak continued against LSU, finishing with 27 points, tying her career high.
She dominated for the Crimson Tide, hitting contested shots and stroking her attempts from the free throw line. She shot 50 percent and went 14-of-16 from the free throw line, a new career high. She also brought down six rebounds, which also led the team.
“My coaches have instilled that confidence in me since I’ve been here, so it’s just a matter of coming to play every game,” Johnson said.
But Johnson’s performance was really the only part that translated.
“Just a complete lack of effort. It’s laziness,” coach Kristy Curry said. “Just really disappointing at the five spot… You can’t win in this league being inconsistent … Something changes within individually, and they need to grow up and understand we’ve got to be consistent.”
In the upset win on Thursday, Alabama finished with one of its best games in the turnover category, finishing with 12. It reached that mark with 5:42 left in the third quarter against LSU. It finished with 18 turnovers, leading to 20 LSU points.
Alabama also struggled to guard LSU without fouling, fouling the Tigers 24 times, which is tied for the second most this season.
Alabama failed to get any offensive production from the bench, as it went 0-of-6 from the field and didn’t make it to the free throw line.
“I think the only way that you can help them is they have to go back to work and spend extra time in the gym,” Curry said. “Didn’t run an inbounds right. Didn’t recognize a tendency twice. Didn’t set a screen once. Jogged through. It was across our bench today.”
Alabama dug itself into a hole during the second quarter, as LSU outscored it 20-10. The big difference in the quarter was the number of free throws, as the Tigers shot 8-of-13, while Alabama was just 1-of-2.
From then the Tigers just had to keep pace with the Crimson Tide. The two were separated by only two points the second half.
Alabama leaves Tuscaloosa for its next two contests, starting with a visit to Fayetteville, Arkansas.