Through Alabama’s first three games of the season, guard Cierra Johnson had shown flashes of the play that earned her the JUCO Athlete of the Year last year when she was at Shelton State. She put it together in Alabama’s 76-56 win against Clemson.
Coming into the game, she had scored 27 points, with a season high of 13 points. She scored 18 in 17 minutes. Her 18 points were eight less than Clemson scored the entire first half.
“Tonight was about me stepping up as a leader tonight with point guard Jordan Lewis out,” Johnson said. “I just felt that I needed to play a bigger role.”
She finished with career highs in minutes (35), points (24), field goals (eight), and rebounds (four). She also finished with three assists and two threes; both tie her season high.
The game shifted Alabama’s way midway through the first quarter. The Tigers held a 10-4 lead before the Crimson Tide went on a 13-2 run, started by when Johnson and Shaquera Wade hit threes on back-to-back possessions, finishing the first quarter leading 17-12.
In the second quarter, it outscored Clemson 24-14 in the quarter, heading to halftime up 41-26. Johnson scored 13 of her points in the quarter.
The Crimson Tide scored almost half of its points from behind the arc, sinking 10 of its 19 shots from deep. It had only made 19 coming into the game. It held Clemson to 1-8 from behind the arc. Forward Jasmine Walker led the team with three.
“Just quit thinking about it and shoot it,” coach Kristy Curry said. “We want them to play free.”
Overall, four players finished in double figures for Alabama. All four scored at least two three-point shots.
The Crimson Tide forced 21 turnovers, finishing with six steals.
Freshman Hannah Barber, who started in place of the injured Jordan Lewis, finished with seven assists and 27 minutes. Both were career highs.
“At the beginning of the game, coach Curry really emphasized our energy,” Barber said. “I think no matter who you are, when your number is called, if you bring that type of energy and do your job then good things will happen. That’s what happened tonight.”
The Crimson Tide really only struggled in two categories: free throw shooting and rebounding. It shot just 54.5 percent (12-22) from the line and was outrebounded 46-37. Clemson brought down 22 offensive rebounds compared to eight for Alabama.
Alabama is back in action on Friday, Nov. 23 when it hosts Grambling State.