Women’s NIT

  • Who: Arkansas-Little Rock at Alabama
  • When: 2 p.m.
  • Where: Coleman Coliseum
  • Records: Alabama 20-13, Little Rock 25-8
  • Radio: 100.1 FM

 

By Drew Hill

Special to Tidesports

 

Alabama women’s basketball is on a hot streak, and just like the season, the team isn’t ready for it to end.

The Crimson Tide’s second round matchup with Arkansas-Little Rock in the Women’s NIT will be the next test, but coach Kristy Curry’s team will be confident after throttling Mercer in the first round on Thursday.

Since Alabama’s back-to-back victories over Tennessee and Auburn in late February, UA has been close in every game, even against some of the SEC’s top teams. Alabama’s momentum drug them all the way to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, but even after a tough loss, it showed no setbacks in the WNIT.

The Crimson Tide’s opponents also have a little momentum on their side as well. Little Rock is coming off of a road win, defeating Southern Miss. The Trojans had five players in its last game reach double-digit points, and shot 54 percent from the floor.

Little Rock coach Joe Foley designed a motion offense for his team, often times getting players open with a lot of ball movement and off-ball screens. But what has really worked for Foley is his defense, because the Trojans are allowing just 55.2 points per game.

“I think that coach Foley is one of the best coaches in the country,” Curry said. “Coach Foley is known for making it hard for you to score, and for running that motion as good as anyone in the country. We certainly have our hands full, but we are excited about the opportunity.”

The way that Alabama has been scoring in its past four games sets up a crash course between the Trojan defense and Crimson Tide offense. Three of its last four games UA has scored over 70 points, including an 80-point performance in its last game against Mercer.

Junior Ashley Williams is a large part of why those totals are so high. The forward scored a season-high 19 points in the last game, but has really showed her value on the glass. Williams has 36 rebounds in the four games between the SEC Tournament and WNIT.

Battling Alabama’s bigs in the paint will be Little Rock senior Kaitlyn Pratt, averaging 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Pratt leads an experienced Trojan team that has received votes in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls this season.

“Every team that’s in this tournament was so close to being in the NCAA tournament,” Curry said. “The competition is phenomenal. It’s just exciting for our staff to be able to prepare again tonight.”

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