The game was played on the hardwood floor of Coleman Coliseum, not in the thickening mud outside, but for three quarters, neither Alabama or Florida could find the traction to run away from the other.
In the fourth quarter, Alabama finally managed to go on one solid run, giving the Crimson Tide the space it needed to pull away for a 69-62 win in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball on Thursday night.
Trailing 57-51 with just over seven minutes to play, Alabama outscore the Gators 15-1 over the next minutes. Crimson Tide reserve Brittany Davis hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to put Alabama ahead 58-57 with 4:58 to play. The strong showing from UA center Ashley Knight, who had two free throws, an assist and a critical blocked shot with 1:44 remaining, allowed Alabama to turn back any late Gator hopes.
“I was really proud that the kids found a way to win,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “Jordan Lewis had some poise that we fed off of during that stretch. Also, we blitzed (the Florida offense) off the screen at the end and I think Ashley Knight really made them uncomfortable running their offense.”
Lewis had Alabama’s best statistical line on the evening with 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Jasmine Walker added 13 points and nine rebounds for UA.
“Those two showed leadership and then I thought our bench was huge,” Curry said. “Brittany hit that 3-pointer to give us the lead and I had her in there because she hadn’t hit a shot and I just had a feeling it was going to happen.”
The game was close throughout, with Alabama holding a 35-33 lead at halftime and trailing 49-48 going into the fourth quarter.
“At Georgia (where Alabama lost in overtime last Sunday) we dug ourselves too big a hole,” Lewis said. “We couldn’t dig ourselves a hole like that again.”
Lavender Briggs led Florida (14-12, 5-8 SEC) with 21 points.
Alabama (15-11, 5-8 SEC) will be back in action on Sunday at No. 9-ranked Mississippi State.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt