Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - Surviving a late scare and advancing, the University of Alabama in Huntsville women’s basketball team edged out a 78-69 win over Tuskegee on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Nova Southeastern University.
UAH (16-16) held a 21-point advantage with 17:57 remaining in the game, but Tuskegee (19-6) kept chipping away the next 10 minutes to eventually tie the game with 7:36 to play. A few key players would make a few key plays to push the Lady Chargers on to the second round. The victory holds an even more significant meaning however, with it being the first NCAA win in women’s basketball program history at UAH.
After jumping out to an early 5-0 lead, the Lady Chargers continued to keep the pressure on the Tigerettes by forcing the at-large tournament members from the SIAC back on their heels with suffocating defense and a 48.4 shooting percentage in the first half to blow the game open.
The second half was a different story however, as the team learned about the famous March Madness saying “survives and advance.” UAH shot just 23.5 percent (8-34) in the second half, as Tuskegee shot 40 percent (14-35).
“Plays don’t win games and plays don’t win championships, players do,” said Heintz. “I’m so proud of this team for what they’ve done. The players stepped up and made big plays down the stretch.”
Bailee Robinson scored 11 points in the final 4:23 of the game after scoring just two in the first half, knocking down two huge three-point baskets and hitting five free throws down the stretch.
“I didn’t get many good looks in the first half, so I took a couple shots late in the game. I was just hoping they would go in and they did. We’ve all worked so hard to get this point and we just didn’t want to see it end,” said Robinson.
Robinson finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in the game, while going 7-for-8 at the free throw line.
“Bailee (Robinson) was huge for us today. Hitting a couple clutch threes and then converting on free throws when the game was on the line,” said Heintz.
UAH held a 44-27 advantage at the break with Tuskegee winning the second half 42-34. The Lady Chargers had the goal of controlling the Tigerettes in the paint and forcing them into long-range, outside shots. Tuskegee finished with 28 points in the paint, the same number as UAH. The Blue and White also forced Tuskegee into a cold 26.7 percent (4-15) shooting from three-point land, as they were overall successful in their goals.
In her first NCAA Tournament game, Halle Jarnigan notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought her (Halle) aggressiveness was huge for us. First NCAA game and she finished with a double-double,” said Heintz.
Four of the five starters finished in double figures, as Jasmine Hammon finished with 16 points, while Jordan Smith recorded a game-high 18 points.
UAH continued the high-scoring offense that was on display at the Gulf South Conference Tournament, scoring 78 points today after averaging 80 points in the GSC Championship last weekend.
Delta State awaits the Lady Chargers in the second round, a very familiar opponent. UAH took two out of three from the Lady Statesmen this season, including their win over DSU in the GSC Tournament semi-finals last Saturday.
“I’m really excited for this team and now we move on to the second round,” said Heintz.
That second-round showdown is set for tomorrow at 5 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Regional Championship on Monday night.
Courtesy UAH Media Relations