MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Senior Tierney Jenkins and junior Ericka Russell combined for 41 points as the Alabama women's basketball team (17-14) took down Memphis (21-13) 80-69 on Thursday night in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Elma Roane Fieldhouse. With the win, the Crimson Tide will advance to the round of 32 where it will take on Northwestern in Chicago on Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m. CT.
"I thought we played well for about 35 minutes," Alabama Head Coach Wendell Hudson said. "We had to be sure we did not back down too much because we knew Memphis could come back, especially since they were at home, and that usually helps you shoot better. I am happy we played well for a long period, and it was a great win on the road. I'm excited to see us continue the season."
Jenkins led three Alabama players in double figures with 21 points. She was followed by Russell, who added 20, and senior LaToya King, who chipped in 14. The Tide is now 15-1 when three or more players record double-digit points in the game. Jenkins and freshman Kaneisha Horn led Alabama in rebounds with seven apiece, while King dished out a team-high six assists.
Less than 30 seconds into the game, senior Varisia Raffington drained a three-pointer to put Alabama on the board first. The Tide took its first 10-point lead of the game at the 14:01 mark as Russell connected on a jumper to put Alabama in front 21-11. Horn provided the Tide with a 13-point advantage, its largest of the half, with a fast break layup at the 6:28 mark. Memphis was able to cut its deficit down to eight with a 7-2 run spanning nearly three minutes, but a 5-2 run by the Tide to end the half gave Alabama a 38-27 lead heading into the break.
Alabama picked up where it left off, starting the second half on a 9-4 run. The Tide soon built a 17-point buffer as Russell laid in the feed from King setting the score at 53-36. Alabama continued to distance itself from the Tigers with a pair of free throws from freshman Jasmine Robinson putting the Tide ahead by 20 points with 9:22 to go. Memphis did not back away, however, stringing together a 12-1 run to pull within nine with 4:40 remaining but would come no closer for the duration of the contest.
For the game, Alabama shot 41.8 percent hitting 28 of its 67 attempts, while Memphis connected on 44.4 percent of its shots going 28-for-63. The difference in the scoring was at the free throw line where the Tide capitalized on its trips to the free throw line with 19 made baskets off 27 attempts. The Tigers were 7-of-15 from the line.