By Drew Hill
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
Alabama women’s basketball punched its ticket to the Sweet 16 of the Women’s NIT on Sunday, coming from behind to defeat Arkansas-Little Rock 55-53. The game ended on a game-winning shot by freshman point guard Jordan Lewis with five seconds remaining. UA outscored Little Rock 14-5 in the final quarter to close a game that it trailed for nearly three-and-a-half quarters.
Sunday’s victory was preceded by a first round win over the Mercer Bears, in which Alabama dominated 81-57. Five different players finished in double figures for the Crimson Tide, as it pulled away from the Bears after halftime. Alabama shot 51.7 percent against Mercer, scoring 44 points in the paint.
The wins propelled Alabama to its first 21-win season since 1998, and they are the first two postseason tournament wins under coach Kristy Curry at Alabama.
Next up for the Crimson Tide is a matchup against the team that knocked it out of the WNIT last season, Tulane. This time around Alabama will be playing at home in Coleman Coliseum, with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.
“We need a great crowd in here,” Curry said. “We need for the Crimson Tide fans to get behind this team, and be in (Coleman Coliseum) for us at 7 p.m. Thursday night.”
Ashley Williams has had a great WNIT up to this point, leading Alabama in points and rebounds over the two-game span. Williams did not play last season, and will be a new physical-style post presence for Tulane to try to negate.
The Green Wave went 1-3 against SEC competition during the regular season, defeating in-state rival Auburn for its only victory. Alabama will try to avoid the same fate as the Tigers.
“We are not going to be satisfied with just being in (the round of) 16. Our goal was to win it,” Curry said.