Women’s basketball stuns No. 9 Mississippi State with buzzer-beating tip-in


CW file

Katie Windham | @ktwindham5, Staff Reporter

With five seconds left in a tie game, the goal was simple for Alabama women’s basketball — get the ball to the rim.

In an overtime loss on the road to Georgia last weekend, junior guard Jordan Lewis said the Crimson Tide did not attack as time ran down. This week, the team wanted to attack the basket to either make a shot or draw a foul.

The way the final seconds played out was not the first or even the second option for Alabama according to Lewis, but it ended up being the best option.

Lewis inbounded the ball to junior forward Jasmine Walker, who passed the ball back to Lewis. Lewis drove to the basket and got a shot off with about two seconds left. The ball sailed a little long off the back side of the rim, but sophomore guard Megan Abrams tipped in the missed shot as time expired to avoid overtime and grab a road victory 66-64 over No. 9 Mississippi State.

“I just kind of had a feeling,” Abrams said. “I’d kind of seen that when Jordan started attacking and went to her shot it was about two seconds left, so I knew with the ball in the air it was going to be one [second], even if that. So I just went up and tipped it in.”

Alabama coach Kristy Curry thought the initial shot by Lewis was going in from her vantage point on the ground, and said it felt like Abrams came out of nowhere to tip in the game winning shot.

“I thought Jordan’s shot was going in,” Curry said. “I never for a second thought it wasn’t, and then here comes Megan. I was way more concerned about it not being good because I didn’t have the clock in my view. Happy it counted.”

Curry said she told all five players on the floor to rebound, where she would normally only send three.

“I saw Jordan attacking the basket, and Coach Curry always talks about how nine times out of 10 when a ball comes from one way, it’s going to go on the back side,” Abrams said. “I knew there was not a lot of time left, so I knew I probably didn’t have time to come down with it, or even grab it with two hands, so I kind of just put it up there and got it to go in.”

After a quick 5-0 start, Alabama trailed for more than 36 minutes and was down by 13 points with 8:41 to go.

A big part of the fourth-quarter comeback was a 10-point individual run by Walker, including two 3-pointers. The Crimson Tide shot a staggering 64% from deep, making nine of 14 shots. Lewis was a perfect 3 for 3 from behind the arc.

“Our coaches were telling us all week that we need to start shooting open shots again because we’re kind of hesitating and double pump faking and just not shooting with confidence,” Lewis said. “Everyone shot open shots and took advantage of open shots and knocked them down today.”

Walker finished with 20 points, all in the second half, and Lewis added 17. Senior guard Cierra Johnson had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

It was the first win for Alabama over a top-10 team since 2014 and snapped a six-game losing streak to Mississippi State.

Lewis said she was happy that her team finally broke through for a big win.

Alabama has previously lost to Georgia by 1 point in overtime, by 4 on the road to then-No. 15 Kentucky, by 5 points to then-No. 15 Texas A&M and by 2 on the road at then-No. 23 Tennessee on a heartbreaking buzzer-beater.

“We’ve lost some really close games, but our kids just continue to be gritty and hardworking,” Curry said. “They prepare to win. Happy for our kids today, and it’s great confidence moving forward. A lot of basketball to be played, so we’re excited for the opportunities ahead.”

Alabama will look to build on that confidence and get a chance to avenge the five point loss to the Aggies, when it travels to College Station, Texas, this Thursday at 6 p.m.