Women's College Basketball

Baylor Overcomes 18 Point Deficit, Stuns Alabama


Baylor guard Jana Van Gytenbeek attempts to drive past Alabama guard Hannah Barber during Saturday’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Round 1 Game on Saturday at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine.

The Baylor Bears overcame a slow start, a career high 33 points by Brittany Davis, and an 18-point deficit, to pull out a narrow 78-74 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in front of 8,043 at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on the campus of the University of Connecticut on Saturday.

Alabama got things going early when guard Brittany Davis singlehandedly went on a 12-0 run to give the Crimson Tide the early lead. Baylor, meanwhile, missed their first nine shots during that stretch.

Baylor guard Darianna Littlepage-Buggs finally got the Baylor scoring going with a layup with 5:12 remaining in the opening quarter, and then scored on a jumper 41 seconds later. The four points by Littlepage-Buggs would be the only scoring the Bears did in the first quarter. It was 12-4 with 4:31 remaining in the quarter.

The Crimson Tide then went on a 10-0 run for the remainder of the quarter. Guard Sarah Ashlee Barker hit a three-pointer and center Jada Rice scored on a layup. Davis added an additional five points during that stretch with one three-pointer and two free throws. Alabama had an 18 point lead, with the score 22-4, at the end of the first. Davis scored 15 of Alabama’s 22 points.

The sleeping Bears woke up in the second quarter. Forward Kyla Abraham hit a jumper right out of the gate and then guard Ja’Mee Asberry connected on her first three-pointer of the day. This set off a flurry of activity as both teams traded three-pointers in the next few possessions.

Despite Baylor getting active in three-point shooting, with treys from guards Jana Van Gytenbeek, Bella Fontleroy, and Asberry, Davis and Rice were able to respond. Alabama led 34-18 with 5:35 left in the half.

This time it was Baylor’s chance to close out a quarter on a run. With Alabama’s Davis on the bench for most of the remainder of the quarter for either rest or for foul trouble, Asberry got a hot hand and hit three treys, while Littlepage-Buggs and guard Jaden Owens added free throws. The Bears began the game 0-7 in the first quarter on three-point shooting, and hit seven out of eight attempts from beyond the arc in the second quarter. Alabama led 41-30 at the half.

Alabama guard Sarah Ashlee Barker stole an inbounds pass from Baylor’s Owens but failed to connect on the layup. Baylor then pressed a 10-0 run with a layup by forward Caitlin Bickle, which was followed by two three-pointers by guard Sarah Andrews, and a layup in transition by Fontleroy to cut the Crimson Tide lead to one.

Alabama guard Megan Abrams hit a three-pointer to extend the lead back to four, but Baylor answered with three-pointers by Asberry and Andrews to give the Bears a 46-44 lead with 5:35 left in the third quarter. Baylor was on a 16-3 run since halftime to get back into the game.

Alabama guard Brittany Davis attempts a shot as Baylor forward Caitlin Bickle tries to defend during during Saturday’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Round 1 Game on Saturday at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine.

Barker went on a 5-0 run of her own to put Alabama back in the lead by three points, but neither team were able to obtain separation from the other. The quarter ended with Alabama leading 59-54 with Barker, Davis, and guard Hannah Barber all contributing points to keep the lead intact.

By now the game was a grudge match. Both teams were locked in on interior defense, forcing the game to be played on the perimeter. The Crimson Tide extended their lead to eight when guard Aaliyah Nye hit a three pointer, but that would become the high water mark of the quarter for Alabama. Baylor continued to chip away at the Crimson Tide lead.

With 6:48 left in the contest, Baylor struck. Asberry hit a three-pointer. Alabama’s Jada Rice answered with a jumper to make the score 68-62. Barker fouled Bickle who was driving for a layup. Bickle converted both free throws. Bickle then scored a jumper, followed by two shots by Andrews. Suddenly Baylor held a three-point lead on a 12-2 run with 3:32 left on the clock.

Davis connected on a trey with 1:50 remaining which tied the score 71-71, and tied her career-high of 33 points.

The tie was broken when Baylor’s Andrews attempted to block a layup by Jada Rice, who converted the free throw to give the Crimson Tide a 74-71 lead with just 53 seconds left. However, Alabama fouled twice on Baylor’s inbounds pass. The first foul was one that the Crimson Tide could give, but the second one put Fontleroy on the line for two free throws. She made them both to cut the Alabama lead to one without taking a single tick off the clock.

Nye missed a jump shot but then fouled Bickle on the rebound. Her two free throws gave Baylor a 75-74 lead with just over a half minute left to play.

With just 19 seconds remaining, Alabama’s Hanna Barber was called for a traveling violation. The turnover caused the Crimson Tide to have to foul the Bears to try to get back in the game. Davis fouled Asberry, who made the first of two free throws. She missed the second free throw, but Fontleroy grabbed the offensive rebound and threw an outlet pass to Asberry, who was fouled by Barber. Asberry’s two free throws made it a two-possession game with just 15 seconds to go. Alabama was unable to score and Baylor, which had only led for 2:55 in the game, pulled off the 78-74 win and the right to face UConn in Round 2 on Monday.

Alabama Crimson Tide guard Brittany Davis started the game on a personal 12-0 run, and amassed a career high 33 points during Saturday’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Round 1 Game on Saturday at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine.

Brittney Davis led all scorers with 33 points. Jada Rice and Sarah Ashlee Barker each added 11 for the Crimson Tide. Alabama shot 49.1 percent on 26-of-53 shooting, and 14-for-26 in three-point shooting. Aaliyah Nye led the Crimson Tide in rebounding with five.

Baylor went 45.5 percent on 25-of-55 field goal shooting, and 14-for-28 behind the arc. Ja’Mee Asberry led the Bears with 26 points, including seven of the team’s three-pointers. Darianna Littlepage-Buggs and Caitlin Bickle each pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Bears.

“For a group of kids that came to Alabama and turned the program around and put it on a trajectory that’s really special, the legacy that they will leave is they left it a whole lot better than they found it. So I don’t want their body of work to take away from how disappointed they are today,” said Crimson Tide head coach Kristy Curry. “I’m really proud to be their coach and love them a lot. You know, we just had too many mistakes down the stretch – a silly foul, a travel, a missed box out there on the free throw.”

“I thought in the third and fourth, we had too many mental mistakes. We gave up 24 and 24. We put them at the free-throw line. They were in a situation late where they didn’t have a foul the last minute and a half of the fourth. We just made too many mistakes,” Curry added.

“Wow, we were really bad in the first quarter and really good after that. I think they came out punching… And I thought we got good shots, but we were making one pass, and they were taking us out of some of our actions because of their physicality on pin downs,” said Baylor head coach Nicki Collen. “We had to respond. Amazingly, I thought we started to respond as the first quarter went on, just the ball didn’t go through the basket.”

“Then I think the second quarter Ja’Mee [Asberry] made some shots and kind of took the lid off, and we started to almost exchange baskets. But I thought that gave us a little energy,” she added.

Asberry had some extra motivation to get things going in the second half.

“What got me going internally, my mom’s birthday was March 16th, and some of you may not know that she passed away when I was 16. And my dad sent me a text on her birthday, I think, and it was like make this game about her,” she said. “When I was at halftime, I was just sitting there, and I was just quiet, and I was just praying to her like let me – if I’m going to go out, let me go out with a bang. Thankfully we won, and I think that that game’s for her.”

Seventh seeded Baylor will face No. 2 seed UConn on Monday night in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Round 2 on Monday night.

Recommended for you