HUNTSVILLE — Going on the road proved to be the right medicine to cure North Alabama’s recent struggles.
Coming off back-to-back home losses, the Lions made big plays down the stretch to claim an 81-69 victory over Alabama-Huntsville.
UNA (12-5, 5-2 GSC) led by two at halftime and shot 55.2 percent from the field in the second half to claim their fifth consecutive win in Huntsville.
“We were excited to play this game because it’s a big rivalry and a great atmosphere to play in,” sophomore point guard Lauren Faris said. “We had not been playing with the enthusiasm and energy we needed, but we go it back tonight.”
Coach Terry Fowler said it was obvious that his team was focused.
“I could tell at our shoot around this morning that we were ready to play,” he said. “I could see it in their eyes and it carried over into the game. We didn’t have to tell them the importance of this game.”
The lead changed hands 14 times as neither team was able to make a run. UNA led 34-32 at halftime but played from behind much of the second half.
UAH (8-10, 5-3) hit three consecutive three pointers midway through the second half but UNA would answer each time. A trey by Delisa Madry and a three-point play by Kaseama Ashbourne kept the Lions within striking distance.
“Those were big plays for us and we seemed to settle down after that,” Fowler said. “We were able to stop their runs and then we were able to execute our offense. The key was us being aggressive.”
The Chargers led 63-59 with 6:42 left when UNA took over. Ashbourne hit a jumper and Mekena Randle made two free throws to tie it at 63. Randle later scored on a spin move and Faris converted a layup to cap a 9-0 spurt that gave UNA a 68-63 lead with 4:03 to play.
UNA pushed its lead to 72-67 before a UAH basket cut it to 72-69 with 2:20 remaining. The Chargers, however, would not score again.
Randle made a layup to make it 74-69. The Chargers were then forced to foul and the Lions made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to ice it.
“We had not been playing aggressively on offense,” Faris said. “Coach told us to take it right at them tonight and we did. Once we did that everything fell into place.”
Randle led UNA with 19 points, followed by Jennifer Towne with 15 and Faris with 11. Jasmine Hammon led UAH with 19 points.
“We’ve got another road game up next at West Georgia, so it was really important to get this one,” Fowler said. “It should give us some confidence on the road. This team needed something good to happen and it went out and made it happen.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at
256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.