Women's Basketball Holds On To Defeat Alabama
Women's Basketball Holds On To Defeat Alabama
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Jennifer Jackson put up a career high 30 points and three other Pirates had double-figures in scoring as the East Carolina women's basketball team defeated Alabama to improve to 3-4 on the season.
The win over the Crimson Tide (6-1) marked the first time in the history of the women's basketball program that the Pirates have defeated Alabama. The game was held at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in front of a crowd of 387.
"I am real proud of our kids," said ECU Head Coach Sharon Baldwin. "We played hard two days in a row and we didn't back down from them. They have a great basketball team but we fought with them and made a run and had them down and then they came back. We just didn't fold, we kept plugging away and it was a great team effort I thought.
"I think we knew that we were going to come out here ready to play because we have played Duke and NC State so we aren't really scared to play against anybody. Now we are getting a little bit more confidence on offense and we are able to knock down some shots and build our confidence."
East Carolina started the scoring early in the game, going up by five on the first two shots of the game, a 10-foot jump shot by Courtney Willis and a three-point basket by Shanita Sutton. Alabama took its lone lead of the first half at the 17:01 mark on a layup by Shun Hunter, but Alisha Bishop hit one of two threes on the afternoon to put the Pirates ahead again and ECU maintained the momentum, going up by as much as seven at one point in the half. The two teams battled it out for a fast-paced and action packed 20 minutes of play, and East Carolina took a three-point advantage into the locker room at the half.
The Lady Pirates made three of the first four baskets of the second half to pull ahead by eight at the 17:25 mark, as Alabama slowly chipped away at the score. The Tide was able to take its second lead of the game on a Monique Bivins three-point shot at 12:30 in the half. Alabama would control the game for the next two minutes of play until Jackson hit a five-foot jumper to put the Pirates up by two, 58-56. ECU increased its lead to four, but Alabama again closed in on the Pirate lead and went up 63-61 on a Monisha Redus three-point shot. Alabama kept the lead for almost a minute until Jackson hit her fourth three-pointer of the afternoon to give the Pirates the 70-69 lead with 1:53 left to play. The next shot was another Pirate three, this time by Tali Robich to put ECU up by four. From that moment on, the Pirates kept the lead as Alabama fouled four Pirate players, giving ECU eight points on free throws.
"I think they (Jackson and Robich) were feeling it," said Baldwin about the late three-point baskets by Robich and Jackson. "With Jen's shot, I thought it was in all the way when she shot it and Tali obviously shoots that a lot of times in practice with someone guarding her. She wasn't being guarded real closely and she just shot it in her face. Both of them are good shooters and I think they were big-time three's."
Jackson led the team with her career-high 30 points, hitting four of five three point shots. She also led the team in rebounding with nine. Courtney Willis had 14 points for East Carolina, while Alisha Bishop had 12 and Shanita Sutton had 10. For the second straight game this season, all participating players scored, and it was the sixth time this year that three or more players have had double-figured scoring.
"She (Jackson) really got after it and she came up with a couple of big-time rebounds toward the end of the game," said Baldwin. "I think she is coming into her own now this year and she is getting a little more confidence in the kind of game that we are playing. We are able to use her in some isolation, she can drive so well and she can shoot the three so she is hard to defend."
.East Carolina outrebounded Alabama by five, 34-29. Four players for East Carolina had four rebounds each, while Jackson led the team with nine. It was the second straight game that East Carolina has outrebounded its opponent, the Pirates are 2-1 in games in which they have outrebounded the competition.
"We outrebounded a good team that has good size," noted Baldwin. "That was one thing that we touched on. We outrebounded yesterday against Bethune-Cookman but now it is how long can you rebound people who are bigger than you. That is the task that we have got to take, we have got to be able to do that night in and night out."
The win gave the Lady Pirates the U.S. Cellular Classic tournament title, and their second win in a row.
"I think that it is nice (to win a tournament at home)," said Baldwin. "Somebody had said to me earlier in the day that at this time last year we were playing in the consolation game. It is good to play in the championship game and not just to get there but to win it."
The 2002 U.S. Cellular Classic All-Tournament Team consisted of Daina Stagaitene from Liberty, Katie Sipe and Bivens from Alabama, and Willis from ECU. Jackson was named MVP of the tournament.
The East Carolina women will take a 12-day break for finals before hitting the court against North Carolina A&T on December 19. That game is set for a 5:30 p.m. start at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.