Alabama women’s basketball fed off the crowd’s energy at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday to edge rival Auburn, 70-60. The Crimson went back and forth with the Tigers for most of the game but separated in the final six minutes with timely baskets from senior guard Hannah Cook.
Cook, an Alabama fan favorite, scored seven points in the fourth quarter before leaving the game with a hand injury. Her two 3-point baskets late in the game gave Alabama some much-needed breathing room, and drew two of the loudest roars from the Alabama faithful.
“I think a big crowd is a huge factor,” Cook said. “Especially for me, I think it gets a lot of us into the game. It just gets us pumped up. I would like to thank all the fans that came out today for this special day.”
There was plenty for the Alabama fans to be buzzing about before the game. It was UA’s annual Power of Pink game in support of breast cancer awareness, and the Crimson Tide came into the game against the in-state rival fresh off its first win over a ranked opponent since 2014.
Adding to the noise level of the 3,285 fans — the second-highest attendance of the season for UA — were the families of several senior players for Alabama, who played their last weekend game in Coleman Coliseum.
You wouldn’t know it after the first quarter.
UA made just one field goal in the first 10 minutes, shooting 9 percent from the floor while turning the ball over six times. After a handful of treacherous trips up the floor against the Auburn press, coach Kristy Curry was forced to burn an early timeout. In the huddle, she urged her team to stop playing at the Tigers’ pace.
“At first I thought we were a little bit tight,” Curry said. “That’s tough because you want to please and you want to do well. But, I thought our kids finally relaxed. I thought the crowd got into it late and was a big difference-maker for us.”
It was also Cook who woke up the Crimson Tide early in the second quarter, draining a 3-point shot at the top of the key. On top of her excellent performance, Cook was asked by former Alabama women’s basketball player Nikki Hegstetter to be her bridesmaid after the game. Hegstetter is getting married to Alabama football player Bradley Bozeman.
“I got really emotional about that,” Cook said. “That’s why I have tears falling down.”
On the night that Alabama celebrated its six seniors, the group combined for 42 points and 25 rebounds. UA still has one home game remaining before the end of the season.
“It’s been a long journey,” fifth-year senior Ashley Williams said. “To play with these five other seniors has been great. … To be able to get a victory today, it’s wonderful.”
Williams finished with a game-high 17 points for Alabama and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“I probably don’t have the words to describe (what Williams means to the program),” Curry said. “There’s not been one day where I’ve had to question her effort. She is one of the hardest working players in the classroom, court and community that I have ever been around. It’s just been a joy and an honor to coach her.”