Hannah Barber can make excuses if she chooses not to face Georgia in Alabama’s SEC opener on Thursday.
Crimson Tide’s senior guard grandfather passed away earlier in the week and was laid to rest on Tuesday morning.
Barber did not hesitate. she wanted to play she demanded to play. Daddy would have wanted her to play.
She asked her coach Christy Curry to let her practice on Tuesday afternoon after the funeral.
Barber donned a suit on Thursday to help Alabama pass Georgia 56-53. You sabotaged the battle, forced a turnover, and secured the victory.
“He was the one who always came to my games,” Barber said of his grandfather, Dykes Barber Sr. This is what he wanted me to do, to keep showing up to his teammates and coaches.
“It was special to play tonight and win.”
Alabama jumped out to a double-digit lead early on, and just as Georgia seemed to have found their rhythm and took command, Alabama’s Barber wreaked havoc.
Georgia took advantage of Crimson Tide sales to convert back into single digits three times in the second quarter. In the third, Barber responded with a big 3-pointer, throwing cold water on Georgia’s momentum and extending the lead for the Crimson Tide.
“What she’s been through in the past five days and what she’s done today says a lot about her personality and her willingness to get through a tough week,” Curry said of Barber. “She’s the epitome of what a student-athlete should be on and off the floor, and how to treat yourself.”
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It was Brittany Davis’ turn to lead the team in the second half. His guard, who led the team with 17 points and nine rebounds, continued to give Georgia a shot as he scored two 3-pointers and layups.
It was also nice. During Davis’ scoring burst, the Crimson Tide had trouble defending his 6-foot-3 forward Britney Smith in Georgia and finished with 17 points. She scored three times in the paint early in the third quarter to keep up with Davis. However, Alabama still led 41-27.
Alabama then got a little sloppy with ill-advised 3-point attempts and turnovers. Georgia used this to close the gap to within his single digits for the fourth time since the first quarter (41-32).
Georgia outscored Alabama 11-3 in the final six minutes of the third quarter, narrowing the lead to 6 points, 44-38.
Barber then knocked down the final 3-pointer to put Alabama up 47-38.
Still, Georgia took advantage of Alabama’s five turnovers to battle within one point in the final minute. Also, Alabama didn’t shoot in his last four minutes against his defense in the Georgia zone.
“We were hesitant,” Curry said. “I have to do a better job to make them succeed. I had to do the post touches and it was really hard without Jada.”
Alabama failed to make a field goal in the final four and a half minutes to take an eight-point lead over the span. However, Alabama made 8 of his 10 free throws in his final five minutes to put the game away.
You don’t have to be a genius to understand that sales were the key. Alabama committed 14 to Georgia’s 6 in the second half. The Bulldogs had 15 in the first half.
Georgia’s chance to tie the game with 17 seconds left fell through and Davis grabbed the rebound on a free throw. When Barber forced the final turnover, she hit two free throws in the stretch to make it a 3-point game.
Alabama (12-2, 1-0 SEC) will face Tennessee on January 1st.