FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Surviving a late scare, Alabama-Huntsville edged out a 78-69 win against Tuskegee on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Nova Southeastern.
UAH (16-16) held a 21-point advantage with 17:57 remaining in the game, but Tuskegee (19-6) kept chipping away at the lead during the next 10 minutes to tie the game with 7:36 to play. A few key plays pushed the Lady Chargers on to the second round. The victory marked 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 UAH shot just 23.5 percent (8 of 34) in the second half and Tuskegee shot 40 percent (14 of 35).
“Plays don’t win games and plays don’t win championships, players do,” Heintz said. “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 3-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,” Robinson said.
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 [on Friday]. Hitting a couple clutch threes and then converting on free throws when the game was on the line,” Heintz said.
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 26.7 percent (4-15) shooting with 3-pointers, 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 [Halle's] aggressiveness was huge for us. First NCAA game and she finished with a double-double,” Heintz said.
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.